Old Problems and New Alliances: Xenophobia and Radical Nationalism in Russia, and Efforts to Counteract Them in 2016
CRIMINAL MANIFESTATIONS OF RACISM AND XENOPHOBIA : Systematic Racist and Neo-Nazi Violence : Attacks against “Ethnic Outsiders” : Attacks on Ideological Opponents : Attacks against LGBT and Homeless People : Violence Motivated by Religion : Vandalism
PUBLIC ACTIVITY OF RIGHT-WING RADICALS : Pressure against the Ultra-Right Movement : New Organisational Developments : Public Rallies of the Ultra-Right : “Anti-repression” activities : Mainstream Nationalist Activities : Elections : Raids and Training Sessions
COUNTERACTION TO XENOPHOBIA AND RADICAL NATIONALISM : Criminal Prosecution : For violence : For Vandalism : For Public Statements : Prosecution of Extremist Groups and Banned Organizations : The Federal List of Extremist Materials : Banning Organizations as Extremist : Other Administrative Measures : Prosecutions for administrative offences : Prosecutorial Activity on the Internet
Appendix. Crime and punishment statistics:
Statistics of Racist and Neo-Nazi Attacks in Russia
Guilty Verdicts for “Crimes of an Extremist Nature”
According to SOVA Center’s monitoring, there were fewer violent incidents motivated by racism and neo-Nazism in 2016 than in 2015. However, this change was not as significant as in previous years, and the true scale of violence is unknown. As in previous years, the victims were mostly those seen as “ethnic outsiders”; their share of the total (all victims) has significantly increased. Some attacks (especially those against adolescents and women) were marked by their extreme cruelty.
There were also fewer cases of vandalism motivated by religious, ethnic or ideological intolerance than in the year before. The number of attacks on religious sites has remained the same and now constitutes two thirds of all incidents of vandalism.
As for the actual law enforcement, the number of convictions for hate crimes has fallen in comparison to 2015. That said, among those who have received prison sentences are members of notable radical-right groups such as 14/88 and Restrukt! from Moscow, and Russian National Unity (Russkoe Natsionalnoe Edinstvo, RNE) from Omsk. The number of convictions for vandalism and affiliation with banned organizations is also down.
The number of convictions for “speech of an extremist nature” (incitement to hatred, incitement to extremist or terrorist activities, etc.) remains higher than the total number of sentences for all other extremism-related crimes. However, there were fewer such convictions overall in 2016, and their number dropped in the second half of the year compared to the first. Also, notably fewer people were imprisoned for speech of an extremist nature.
While we do not wish to make any judgements concerning the political factors at play, it is important to note that this is the first time since 2011 that we have recorded a year-on-year fall in convictions for public speech of an extremist nature. (Before 2011, there was also an overall upward trend, albeit with some year-on-year exceptions.) It is possible that this slight drop does not reflect a real downward trend in such convictions but is rather an artefact of our incomplete data set. Nevertheless, it is likely that the conviction rate for speech of an extremist nature has decreased or, at least, not risen noticeably. This is, in itself, a contrast to the sharp increase in 2015. It is likely that this is connected with the gradual relaxation of the general state of high alert triggered by the war in Ukraine and to the fact that the goals concerning the suppression of the ultra-right have largely been reached. One may also hope that the rising public outcry precipitated by the scale and nature of such recourse to the criminal law has, too, played its role.
As per the pattern of recent years, the vast majority of convictions have been for materials distributed over the Internet, and most of those convicted are rank-and-file users of the social network VKontakte who had reposted video clips or other materials. However, starting from 2012 and even more so from the autumn 2014, the state has been actively prosecuting well known right-wing radicals for actionable speech offenses, though sometimes on trivial grounds. Throughout 2016, law enforcement agencies have continued to monitor the leaders of the most active ultra-right opposition movements extra closely. In addition to the ongoing cases, new prosecutions were launched against those ultra-right leaders who had already come to the attention of law-enforcement agencies in recent past.
While the number of criminal convictions decreases, albeit slowly, the number of convictions in administrative cases steadily grows. It is clear that the incompleteness of our data with regard to those cases is worse than it is for the criminal ones. In 2016, the Federal List of Extremist Materials continued to be updated, with the proportion of various errors and nonsensicalities being same as before; however, in the second half of the year its expansion slowed down.
So far as combating extremist material on-line goes, the task of the prosecutors comes down to blocking access to the prohibited materials (or those presumed to be otherwise “dangerous”). In the past four years, the campaign to do so has intensified, particularly if we look at the cases logged under “Lugovoy’s Law” in the second half of the year (mostly these were cases concerned with radical Islamist material, including the videos produced by the so-called Islamic State). The increase in the frequency of content-blocking is accompanied by a decrease in its adequacy, by which we mean not so much its legal soundness as its general fitness for purpose. It is unlikely that content-blocking actually improves public safety, but it does increasingly erode freedom of expression on the Internet.
When evaluating the overall dynamics in the use of anti-extremist laws, one can see that, at least in relation to nationalists, the well-established repressive methods are slowly beginning to fade into the past, hence the halt in the growth of convictions for crimes “of an extremist nature”, as well as the various other changes. What is increasingly displacing the older methods are those ones that the law-enforcement agencies see as having preventative power. This probably explains the increase in the volume of on-line materials blocked as a “public safety measure”. It also likely explains the growing number of administrative law verdicts in cases pertaining to forbidden symbols and the dissemination of prohibited materials. The additional bans on Internet use may have the same motivation as the widespread confiscations of the “instruments of crime”, i.e. laptops, tablets, smart phones, etc. – items the cost of which often exceeds the fine several-fold. It is possible that these changes in patterns of the law enforcement are linked to the increasing involvement of the Federal Security Service (Federalnaya Sluzhba Bezopasnosti, FSB) in anti-extremist activities. The “preventative” mindset was also what, to a great extent, motivated the controversial amendments to Internet law contained in “Yarovaya’s Act”.
For over two years, the ultra-right has been harried by law-enforcement agencies. This must have had some effect on the internal structure of this political sector. In 2016, the nationalist movement was reorganising itself more intensively, particularly focusing on the development of activities that would be difficult for the State to counter.
Those organizations that had staked their political fortune on supporting the “Russian Spring” faced a severe drop in public interest in the second half of 2016. The turnout at their demonstrations was very poor, and their campaigns went largely unnoticed. The most likely cause of this is the receding interest in the Ukrainian conflict. Meanwhile, it has not been possible for these nationalists to pursue a conventional xenophobic agenda because of the fear of being harassed by the state.
On the other hand, while the right-wing radicals, the opponents of “Novorossiya”, have faced more harassment from the State, they have had some minor yet noticeable successes. These successes were achieved by those groups that decided to cooperate with the liberal-democratic opposition, the latter having access to far greater resources. It was the parliamentary election campaign that came to be the main basis for this rapprochement, particularly under the umbrella of the PARNAS party (People’s Freedom Party, Partiia Narodnoi Svobody). That said, the actual electoral gains made by the nationalists proved to be very modest. Cooperation with the liberals provides a level of security and access to new audiences, yet it also forces the ultra-right to face a difficult dilemma: whether to minimise the usual xenophobic rhetoric or renounce this convenient partnership. Different groups came to different decisions. One way or another, a new movement was born, which includes both ultra-right and liberal-democratic activists, as well as a variety of supporters of the nationalist-populist blogger Viacheslav Maltsev.
Meanwhile, traditional nationalist actions, be they xenophobic or “counter-repression” attracted far, far fewer activists – a fraction of the number that one saw two or three years ago.
There remains a fashion for non-political types of activism: all manner of combat training sessions and gatherings on the one hand, and the various debate clubs and lectures on the other. Neither of these forms of activism have a clear goal; they exist mainly because other forms are impossible. Yet the high level of militarisation that the ultra-right gained 2014–2015 is still there.
In 2016, at least 9 people were killed by racist and neo-Nazi violence, 72 were injured, and 3 people received credible death threats. Our data does not include victims of incidents in the North Caucasus and Crimea, or victims of mass brawls. Compared to 2015, the number of racist and neo-Nazi attacks has dropped, although not as drastically as it did the year before. (In 2015, 12 people were killed, 96 were injured, and 8 received credible death threats. In 2014, 36 people were killed, 134 were injured, and 2 received credible death threats.) We want to clarify that our current data for 2016 is still incomplete. The numbers will inevitably rise, because many incidents only come to our attention a year or even 18 months after they happen.
It has become increasingly difficult to gather data from public-domain sources. One gets the impression of deliberate omission or concealment of facts in the media. For example, in 2017 there was already a native of Republic of Chad killed in Kazan. Those suspected of his murder were quickly arrested, and an investigation is under way. The police are checking whether the suspects may have participated in other attacks. However, the details of these other attacks are only now being reported in the media. It is also difficult to find unofficial sources: the victims themselves usually do not welcome it when information about their ordeal is made public and only very seldom report the incidents to law-enforcement agencies, non-governmental organizations, or the media.
In the past year, attacks occurred in 18 regions (vs. 26 regions in 2015). As before, the highest levels of violence were recorded in the cities of Moscow (3 killed, 26 injured) and St. Petersburg (3 killed, 16 injured), and in the Moscow and Vladimir Regions (0 killed, 6 injured). In addition, a significant number victims was reported in the Omsk Region (1 killed, 2 injured) and the Republic of Tatarstan (1 killed, 2 injured).
By comparison with the previous year, the situation in the Khabarovsk Region has slightly improved (0 killed, 2 injured).
A number of regions that figured in our 2015 data set no longer do so this year (the Volgograd, Voronezh, Kaliningrad, Kaluga, Kirov, Kurgan, Kursk, Murmansk, Nizhny Novgorod, Samara, Tver and Perm Regions, and the Republic of Karelia). However, crimes were reported in a number of new regions (the Vladimir, Omsk, Chelyabinsk, Zabaykalsk, Krasnodar and Stavropol Regions).
As before, those perceived by the attackers as “ethnic outsiders” made up the largest group of victims, and the proportion of attacks on this group has risen significantly: in 2016 we recorded 44 victims of ethnically motivated attacks (7 of whom died), compared to the 38 recorded in 2015. Migrants from Central Asia, as usual, constitute the largest group of victims, with 2 killed and 22 injured (vs. 4 killed and 6 injured in 2015). In addition, there were victims of unspecified “non-Slavic appearance” (1 killed and 7 injured). Since people in this group of victims were most often described as “Asian” in appearance, the vast majority of them are likely to be migrants from Central Asia (in 2015, this group numbered 1 killed and 10 injured). Victims from the Caucasus region include 2 killed and 1 injured (vs. 0 killed and 5 injured in 2015).
Xenophobic attacks against other “ethnic outsiders” involved an Indian citizen killed in Kazan, a Bangladeshi citizen who suffered battery in Moscow, and Korean citizens who suffered battery in St. Petersburg and Tula.
Anti-Semitic attacks are quite rare in Russia, but anti-Semitic rhetoric is very noticeable in the radical-right segments of the Internet. Consequently, there remains a risk of anti-Semitic attacks. Over the last 3 years we have consistently recorded 1 to 2 attacks per year. In the last year we recorded 3 victims of anti-Semitic attacks in Moscow and St. Petersburg (vs. 2 Jewish victims in 2014 and 2 in 2015).
Some attacks (especially those against adolescents and women) were marked by their extreme cruelty. For example, a 20-year-old African woman was raped and brutally murdered in December 2016 in Moscow. One of the suspects arrested, nicknamed “Kolyuchka” (“Spike”) stated that what had motivated him were “his radical views”. The young men claimed that they considered the victim to be “dirty”. In August 2016, a 17-year old boy from Tajikistan was found near a 24-hour shop on Lensky Street, St. Petersburg, with multiple knife wounds to the back and two severed fingers. Three young suspects, armed with bats, knives and machetes, were detained.
This year we have recorded multiple incidents of group attacks on people from Central Asia and the Caucasus in subway and commuter train cars (the so-called “white carriages”). We know of at least 5 such incidents. However, attacks in subway cars are also carried out by lone individuals. An incident that took place on 8 April 2016 caught media attention: in Moscow, a subway passenger attacked two immigrants from Tajikistan, Mukhammadzhon Khakimov and Sulaimon Saidov, inside a train carriage at the Kaluzhskaya station.
Ultra-right raids on markets and other public spaces continued. Thus, in St. Petersburg, Dmitry Bobrov carried out a so-called Russian Purge (Russkaia zachistka) – a number of raids in search of places of illegal trade. The ultra-right group North-Slavic Village (Stanitsa Severo-Slavianskaia) organized raids in areas where migrant workers live. Approximately 10 people, together with the police, broke into flats in derelict apartment buildings and forced Central Asian migrants out onto the street. In Moscow, activists from the National Conservative Movement (Natsional’no-Konservativnoie Dvizhenie) checked the registration and sanitation paperwork of kebab vendors. In Podolsk, they also raided the places where melons and watermelons were sold. In Moscow, the Citadel project (Tsitadel’), led by Vladimir Ratnikov, carried out raids in search of illegal melon and watermelon sellers.
In 2016, the number of ultra-right attacks against political, ideological or “stylistic” opponents decreased slightly to 8 injured (vs. 13 in 2015). Those targeted included a Greenpeace volunteer in the Krasnodar Region and an “emo” teenager in Vladimir. A number “inappropriately dressed” schoolchildren were beaten up by neo-Nazis in Vladivostok.
This category also includes those seen as “fifth column” or “traitors”. On 11 July an employer of the Russian social media website VKontakte, Denis Samsonov, was attacked in St. Petersburg. The attackers shouted “National traitor, Jew, fifth column”.
As a rule, in attacks of this kind, one gets some participation from the members of pro-Kremlin nationalist movements. For example, in Moscow, on 28 April 2016, activists from National Liberation Movement (Natsional’no-osvoboditel’noe dvizhenie, NOD) attacked the attendees at a ceremony for the winners of Russia’s annual senior high school students’ research project competition: “Man in History. Russia – 20th Century” .
Some victims have been “collateral damage”, injured as they tried to protect those immediately targeted in the attack. For example, this was the case when a native of Kyrgyzstan, Nurik (Atabek) Munduzov was killed near Ryazansky Prospekt metro station in Moscow in August 2016. A 29 year old man, a passerby, was riding his motorcycle when he heard shouting. He pulled over and ran after the attackers, but was struck with a knife in the shoulder.
Attacks on members of the LGBT community have decreased slightly (1 killed and 5 injured in 2016 vs. 9 injured in 2015).
However, the attacks have become more serious. On 31 March 2016, the journalist Dmitry Tsilikin was brutally murdered. A suspect, Sergey Kosirev, was detained. Kosirev referred to himself as a “cleanser”, his life’s purpose being to “crusade against a certain social group”. What drove him to kill Tsilikin was “not dislike – as your report states – but hatred”. Despite this, law-enforcement agencies charged him with ordinary murder (Article 105 of the Criminal Code), with no mention of a hate motive. On 29 September 2016, a petition started by Natalia Tsymbalova, a civic activist, appeared on change.org, calling for the murder of Dmitry Tsilikin to be reclassified as a hate crime.
Attacks are not limited to people participating specifically in LGBT actions and events; participants of any action where LGBT symbols are displayed can find themselves targeted. On 19 January, for example, 10–15 members of God’s Will (Bozh’ia volia), headed by Dmitry (Enteo) Tsorionov, turned up at a rally in memory of the murdered human rights lawyer, Stanislav Markelov, and the reporter Anastasia Baburova. They intended to “beat up gays”, but were stopped by the police.
Aggressive football fans, aside from jeering and displaying racist symbols during games (including European Championship matches), also attacked members of the LGBT community. In the early hours of 15 June 2016, a group of football fans attacked customers at the “Mono” gay bar in Yekaterinburg.
The infamous “Khabarovsk knacker-girls” (“khabarovskie zhivoderki”) also bullied and attacked LGBT people. Investigations confirmed that the two teenage girls and their male accomplice, who are accused of torturing and killing animals, were involved in the incitement of hatred and insulting the feelings of religious people. According to investigators, one of the girls and an 18-year-old man recorded and edited a video of a man. This video was judgedto be “aimed at the abasement of dignity of a person or a group of persons on the basis of affiliation to a social group”. (The investigative committee’s report leaves it unclear which social group is being referred to; however, the girl’s social media page contains posts about violent attacks on homeless and LGBT people in 2016.)
Fewer attacks on homeless people came to our attention in 2016 than in 2015 (1 killed and 1 injured, vs. 3 killed and 7 injured in 2015). Intoxication and unkempt appearance were cited as the reasons for the murder of Alexander Chizhikov, the leader of a Bryansk rock band Otvet Chemberlenu (The Answer to Chamberlain), on 28 July 2016. The suspects, aged 19 and 21 years old, were “supporters of an informal movement aggressively advocating intolerance towards people outside of society”. They stabbed the musician who had been sleeping near a heating system pipe. They were charged under Article 105, Part 2, clauses.”g” and “k” of the Criminal Code (“Murder committed by a group of persons by previous concert, by reason of hatred with respect to some social group”). There are, almost by definition, more such attacks than we are aware of, because we only record those crimes where hate has already been recognised as a motive by the investigation.
The number of victims of religious xenophobia was greater than in the preceding year (20 injured, vs. 18 in 2015). One other person received a credible death threat.
Most of the victims were Jehovah’s Witnesses, who have faced state-endorsed persecution for many years. In 2016, at least 18 Jehovah’s Witnesses were targeted. Other victims include the Pentecostals in Alexandrov, Vladimir Region.
In 2016, there was a lower rate of vandalism motivated by religious, ethnic and ideological hatred than in the previous year. There were at least 44 cases of such vandalism in 26 regions in 2016, compared to at least 56 cases in 32 regions in 2015.
As in 2015, most cases of vandalism in 2016 were distinctly ideological in nature: the defilement of monuments to Marx, Lenin, and the Revolution, as well as communal war graves, the FSB Museum, etc. (14 incidents in total compared to 19 in 2015). The data does not include isolated cases of swastikas and other images of this kind on buildings and fences.
Russian Orthodox religious were the second most commonly vandalised: 10 incidents, 2 of which involved arson (vs. 9 incidents in 2015 and 10 in 2014). Sites of new religious movements (all of them belonging to Jehovah’s Witnesses) were the third: 9 incidents, including 1 bombing and 2 arson attacks (vs. 11 incidents in 2015). Jewish sites were the fourth: 5 incidents, the same as the previous year, including 1 arson attack. Muslim sites were the fifth: 4 incidents of vandalism, of Muslim sites (vs. 7 in 2015). Two Buddhist sites were vandalised: a temple in St. Petersburg and a statue of Buddha in Elista, Kalmykia. No Buddhist sites were targeted in 2015.
The data shows that the number of attacks on religious sites did not change significantly between 2015 and 2016 (30 incidents in 2016 vs. 29 in 2015).
However, the number of more dangerous incidents – fires and explosions – fell slightly to 13%: 6 out of the total of 44, compared to 10 out of the 56 in the previous year.
The geographic distribution has changed somewhat. A number of new regions reported acts of vandalism in 2016: the Altai, Zabaykalsk, Amur, Arkhangelsk, Ivanovo, Kaliningrad, Kursk, and Rostov Regions, the Republics of Karelia, Kalmykia, Crimea, Tatarstan, and Chuvashia, the Stavropol and Khabarovsk Regions). Meanwhile, some previously featured regions have disappeared from our 2016 statistics: the Moscow, Bryansk, Volgograd, Vologda, Kostroma, Lipetsk, Murmansk, Novosibirsk, Samara, Sverdlovsk, Tver, Tomsk, Tula, Ulyanovsk, Chelyabinsk, Krasnodar and Krasnoyarsk Regions, the Republics of Bashkortostan and Khakassia, and the Komi Republic.
The geographic distribution of xenophobic vandalism was broader (26 regions) than that of violence (18 regions). The geographic distribution of vandalism overlaps with that of racist violence in only 6 regions (vs. 10 in 2015): St. Petersburg, the Zabaykalsky Region, the Republic of Tatarstan, the Rostov, Stavropol and Khabarovsk Regions.
Throughout 2016, law-enforcement agencies continued to monitor more actively the leaders in the anti-government ultra-right organisations. As mentioned, criminal charges and other types of pressure against the far-right began to increase significantly at the end of 2014.
Last year, in addition to the ongoing cases against the publicly active nationalists, new prosecutions were launched. Many of these were against those ultra-right leaders who had already come to the attention of law-enforcement agencies in recent past. Thus began a second round of criminals and administrative prosecutions.
Let us recount the year’s most attention-grabbing criminal cases and searches that involved the public figures of Russian nationalism:
- In April, a search was conducted at the residence of the leader of the Moscow branch of the Nation and Freedom Committee (Komitet “Natsiia i svoboda”, KNS), Vladimir (Ratnikov) Komarnitsky. This was part of investigations under Article 282 of the Criminal Code. He was charged with publishing (posting on a social network) forbidden songs by the neo-Nazi groups Kolovrat and Bandy Moskvy (Gangs of Moscow). Ratnikov was released on probation in September.
- In April, Dina Garina, head of the ultra-right movement t “The Russians of St. Petersburg”, faced new charges under Article 282 of the Criminal Code (“Incitement of hatred on the basis of nationality”) [In keeping with the Russian terminology, here and elsewhere “nationality” is what is more commonly referred to as “ethnicity” in English.] and Article 280 (“Public Appeals for the Performance of an Extremist Activity”). Garina had already been convicted under the Article 280 two months earlier. In April, one of the organisers of the Russian Marches in Lipetskwas charged under Article 282 of the Criminal Code.
- In May, a second case was brought against DmitryBobrov, head of the banned National Social Initiative (Natsionalnaya sotsial’naya initsiativa, NSI), under Article 282 of the Criminal Code. It is notable that the charges involved the on-line republication of an article entitled The Racial Doctrine (Rasovaia doktrina). Bobrov was charged with distributing the article as part of the first caseagainst him.
- In May, yet another criminal case was brought against the neo-Nazi Viacheslav Datsik, known as “Red Tarzan”, under Article 161 of the Criminal Code(“Robbery”), following his recent release from prison. He is suspected of stealing purses and mobile phones from women working at a brothel that he had raided and trashed.
- In Vologda, in May, law-enforcement agents conducted a search at the home of the administrators of the nationalist social media group Russian Vologda (Russkaia Vologda). As far as we know, no new charges were made after the searches were conducted.
- Vladimir Kvachkov, a retired colonel and head of the banned movement People's Militia in the Name of Minin and Pozharsky ( Narodnoe opolchenie imeni Minina i Pozharskogo, NOMP), was charged in June under Article 2052 of theCriminal Code (“Public Calls for Committing of Terrorist Activity”). He is already serving a separate eight-year sentence. The case was brought in connection with the charges against the NOMP leader over public incitement to rioting and violence.
- Yury Yekishev, head of People’s Militia of Russia ( Narodnoe opolchenie Rossii, NOR) was arrested in June and then charged under Article 282 of the Criminal Code. The case had been active since 2014. He is suspected of publishing an anti-Semitic post on behalf of NOR. A search was conducted in connection with this case also at the home of Vladimir Kurchenko (Maksim Kalashnikov), a radical journalist and a supporter of NOR.
- Searches were conducted in July at the Moscow offices of the unregistered party Other Russia (Drugaia Rossiia). The official reason for the searches was a tip-off regarding the possible preparation of a terrorist attack by party activists.
- Dmitry Dyomushkin, former head of the banned “The Russians” Association (Obiedinenie “Russkie”), was detained and placed under house arrest in October, immediately after submitting a request to hold the annual Russian March in Moscow. The nationalist was previously charged under Article 282 of the Criminal Code for publishing photographs of Russian March banners on social media. Proceedings first began back in 2015, but Dyomushkin was placed under further investigation in June 2016. Investigations were resumed in August, and in December he faced further charges, again for publishing more xenophobic pictures on social media. At the time of writing, court proceedings were beginning, and Dyomushkin was still under house arrest.
- In December, two administrative cases were brought against two of Dyomushkin’s associates and organisers of the Russian March in Moscow, Ivan Beletsky and Yuri Gorsky under Article 20.2 of the Administrative Code (“Violating the established procedure for organizing a meeting”). According to new regulations, three guilty verdicts in one year on administrative charges brought under this article can be cause for criminal charges under Article 2121 of the Criminal Code (“Repeated violation of the established procedure for organizing or conducting a meeting”), if a fourth charge is brought for an administrative offence of this category.
Two years of state pressure on the ultra-right movement and, in particular, on the leaders of almost all the main organizations of this political bent could not fail to affect the very structure of the ultra-right sector. This is why we have had to include this mini-chapter. As will be shown, in 2016, in an attempt to adapt to a new reality, the nationalist movement as a whole began to restructure itself. New leaders have come to the fore, new organizations have been created, and new alliances formed. In addition, nationalists are being forced to look for new forms of public activism, in order to attract less attention from law-enforcement agencies.
Given the changing state of play, there is need to find new ways to exist, and the ultra-right has, throughout the year, been actively engaged in organizational development. Russia’s changing political environment, the divide over the “Ukrainian issue”, and the fact that many prominent organizations have lost their influence or ceased to exist entirely means that the established balance of power in the ultra-right sector has been disturbed. Both old and new alliances among the right-wing radicals have had to find new definitions for themselves. There are decisions to be made concerning which “comrades” one should work with (or against), and whether other ideologically different factions are to be joined or denounced.
Although, the Ukrainian conflict lost much of its emotional and partly political sensitivity as a criterion of division of ordinary Russians quite as much as it did before, it still remains something of a fault line within the ultra-right. The organisations that have found themselves on the opposing sides of this divide in 2016 are now developing in very different ways.
At the beginning of 2016, the most talked about innovation in the segment of the ultra-right that had at one point supported the “Russian Spring” was the appearance of the Committee of 25 January(Komitet 25 Iianvaria, K25). This was set up by several well-known nationalist leaders, specifically Igor Strelkov (of the “Novorossiya”movement), Eduard Limonov (Other Russia), Konstantin Krylov (National-Democratic Party, Natsional-Demokraticheskia Partiia, NDP,), Yegor Prosvirnin (Sputnik and Pogrom websie), Maksim Kalashnikov (Party of Work, Partiia Dela), Anatoly Nesmiyan (a blogger known as “El Murid”), and a number of others. The make-up has changed a little since. Notably, E. Limonov has deserted K25, while the journalists Dmitry Olshansky and Yegor Kholmogorov have joined. Initially, K25 was intended as a discussion forum and an information exchange hub, but it quickly began to transform into an organization with an internal hierarchy and a set of rules. This process was completed in spring, when the K25 was renamed the All-Russian National Movement (Obshcherusskoe National’noe Dvizhenie, OND) under the leadership of Igor Strelkov. The OND continued to present itself as the “third force”, in opposition to both the “pro-Western white-ribbon liberals”, and “the statists”. Renouncing its status as a “club” and entering the fray as a political organization has not worked out well for K25. Despite opening a branch in St. Petersburg, the organization ran just one more or less successful event, a commemoration of those who died the Trade Union House in Odessa on 2 May 2014 (see below for more information). The group still does not have a website of its own, and its participation in public politics is practically non-existent.
Another union of nationalists who had supported the “Russian Spring” and tried to gain recognition as a political organization also tried to “level up” to the status of a political organisation: the National-Conservative Movement “Russian World” ( Natsionl’no-Konservativnoe Dvizhenie “Russkii mir”, NKD), headed by Mikhail Ochkin and Valentina Bobrova. In March, the NKD announced its intention to become a “serious political force”, but it seemed to select rather random topics for public activities: the organization campaigned against abortion, demanded visas to be introduced for citizens of Central Asian countries, protested against Turkish foreign policy, and staged raids against illegal kebab vendors. Just like the K25, the NKD saw little success: none of its actions gained much momentum or attention, and after the September elections, in which Bobrova was one of the candidates, the activity of the movement subsided and remained low until the end of the year.
Another coalition, the Battle for Donbass, inspired by the general themes of “Novorossiya” and the “Russian Spring”, underwent a transformation is in 2016. This pro-government alliance first appeared in 2014, and was primarily oriented towards staging public rallies. Leading figures in the organization were the heads of the Right-Conservative Alliance ( Pravo-Konservativnii Al’ians, PKA) Aleksei Zhivov and Yevgeny Valiaev. Searches were conducted in both of their homes in the spring of 2015, which seemed to dampen their resolve. As a result, the Battle for Donbass transformed from an organizer of large-scale rallies into another social media group that posts on the subject of Ukraine on the popular social network VKontakte. In 2016, Valiaev decided to work solely for the National Diplomacy Foundation, while A. Zhivov founded a new organization: the Russian Civil Society (Russkoe Grazhdanskoe Obshchestvo, RGO), originally called the Right Patriots (Pravye Patrioty). In the spring, A. Zhivov and the RGO, together with Oleg Vozovikov and his social media group Evil Russians (Zlye russkie), founded the Dostoevsky Discussion Club. Meetings are attended mostly by right-wing conservative politicians and experts. Thus, A. Zhivov went from leading the dying Battle for Donbass to leading a reasonably well-respected nationalist forum. It is worth noting that the development of the Battle for Donbass almost mirrors the “evolution” of theCommittee of 25 January, which began to die as an organization when it renounced the idea of being a “club”.
The Russian National Front (RNF) is another example of an ultra-right union dedicated to the “Russian Spring”. A branch was opened in St. Petersburg, and the Elena Rokhlina’s Foundation for the Support of Russian Political Prisoners has been set up. Despite this, like Strelkov’s OND, the organization remained fairly inactive throughout the last year, while its public actions, when they did actually happen, often drew fewer activists than they did in 2015.
As can be seen from the above, the organizations that supported the “Russian Spring” underwent fundamental and positive organisational changes at the beginning of the year. Yet the second half of the year brought them little to boast about. The reverse trend could be seen for those movements that, in contrast to the ones described above, failed to show support for “Novorossiya”. In 2014 and 2015, they seemed to face more difficulties, because this part of the ultra-right had suffered more from being targeted by law-enforcement agencies and had lost key active members because of differing opinions on Ukraine.
The largest of these unions was the “The Russians” Association, headed by Alexander Belov and Dmitry Dyomushkin, which in 2014 was deserted by all its member organizations that disagreed with the Moscow leaders’ position on Ukraine (Russian Imperial Movement/ Russke imperskoe dvizhenie, RID; the National Social Initiative/NSI; the Russian Khimki/Russkie Khimki, and others). Then, in 2015 “The Russians” were declared an extremist organization and ceased to exist completely. In place of the union rose a number of less extreme organizations. Thus, in the first half of 2016, this part of the ultra-right sector had gone full circle.
The first organization of note to have arisen from “The Russians” “The Russians”was the Nation and Freedom Committee (Komitet “Natsiia i svoboda’, KNS), founded in September 2014 by Vladimir Basmanov, one of the leaders of “The Russians” which had been declared extremist. It became apparent quite quickly that the KNS could not claim to take the place of the banned coalition. Firstly, Basmanov would not work with t “The Russians”other former leader, Dyomushkin, which lead to the loss of a part of the group. Secondly, Basmanov is unable to fulfil the role of the “talking head of Russian nationalism”, as he is significantly less well-known in the media than his brother, Belov, or, for that matter, Dyomushkin himself. Thirdly, Basmanov has emigrated some time ago, meaning he is physically unable to take part in demonstrations and give off-the-cuff statements to the media.
At the beginning of 2016, the KNS too was beginning to divide; in the winter, a spin-off group by the name of Free Russia (Svobodnaia Rossiia) emerged, led by the KNS activist Denis Romanov-Russky. In the first half of the year, as far as we know, the new organization continued to collaborate with the KNS, but after the September elections, Romanov-Russky joined Dyomushkin and his supporters who were KNS rivals.
Also in the winter, another organization that had formed in place of the banned Russians also disintegrated. This was For Honor and Freedom (Za Chest’ i Svobodu), led by Alexander Samokhin, the former head of “ “The Russians” ’Ryazan branch, and Ratnikov from RFO Memory(RFO “Pamiat”), the KNS and the Black Bloc (Chernyi Blok). As For Honor and Freedom broke down, Ratnikov withdrew his anti-migrant project Citadel out of the organization, and Samokhin renamed what was left of For Honor and Freedom, to simply Honor and Freedom (Chest’ i Svoboda). The division was reportedly down to the fact that the organization was originally founded as a compromise between national-conservative democrats and national-radicals (essentially national-socialists), and the groups were unable to come to any agreement. After the breakup of the initial For Honor and Freedom, Honor and Freedom, led by Samokhin, started to develop separately from the other ultra-right projects, and the Citadel joined forces with the Black Bloc and Edelweiss(Edelveis), a support foundation for imprisoned nationalists, to found an on-line network called the Autonomous NS of Moscow (NS = National Socialists, Avtonomnye NS Moskvy). The aim was to become the voice of national-socialism supporters. It is too early to say whether the network will succeed in this, as most of the initiatives that it has promoted have received minimal support.
As has been mentioned, nationalists opposing the “Russian Spring” faced more difficulties than those who supported the “Novorossiya” movement, and, to counter this marginalization, most decided to work with the liberal opposition. Somewhat paradoxically, these particular nationalists and the liberals shared some of the same views on the situation in Ukraine. This partnership meant that the right-wing radicals were able to use the liberals’ resources and demonstrations to their own advantage. To varying extents, the following organizations also took part in this collaboration: the KNS (under Basmanov), Dyomushkin’s supporters (who had been operating without a name for approximately one year), Free Russia (under Romanov-Russky), Honor and Freedom (under Samokhin), the Russian Joint National Alliance (Russkii obiedinennyi natsional’nyi al’ians, RONA, – under Oleg Filatchev), and the Russian Right Party (Rossiiskaia pravaia partiia, RPP, – under Vladimir Istarkhov). However, relations between the ultra-right activists who were allied with the liberals were quite often strained, which sometimes led to clashes.
This seems to have brought little new by way of tangible success in the period leading up to 29 May 2016, which is when the on-line primaries of the democratic coalition around the PARNAS party were held. Unexpectedly, the person who won them was Viacheslav Maltsev, the nationalist blogger from Saratov, who presents Bad News (Plokhie Novosti), a programme on the YouTube channel Artpodgotovka (“Artillery Workup”). His victory could have gone down as just another odd turn of events in the fairly disastrous, scandal-ridden primaries, had PARNAS not subsequently decided to list Maltsev as their second candidate in the Russian State Duma elections. It is irrelevant how the party came to this decision – maybe the leadership genuinely believed in the alliance of liberals and nationalists, or maybe they simply wanted to put an end to the scandal surrounding the primaries – either way, a precedent was set.
Of course, those among the ultra-right who did not support “Russian Spring” in 2014 could not miss the fact that a candidate who shared their views was entering state politics. A group of nationalists formed around Maltsev, wanting to somehow play a part in his future political career and. As time went on, they were joined by some activists with liberal-democratic leanings (see the Elections section for more information).
Even though the election itself proved a fiasco for PARNAS, and Maltsev was not elected to the Duma, the alliance between the nationalists and the civic activists had proved to be valuable during the pre-election campaign. Once the elections were over, members of Maltsev’s election team, namely the civic activist Mark Galperin (who campaigned for Maltsev), the nationalists, Dyomushkin’s followers, Yury Gorsky and Ivan Beletsky, and various others, launched a series of rallies entitled the Walks of the Opposition and called on activists of all backgrounds to join them – nationalists, liberals, leftists and any other “angered citizens”.
The rallies gained publicity and, by the end of autumn, the walks had started to develop into an organization: they gave rise to the New Opposition movement (Novaia Oppozitsiia), whose organizing committee included liberal-democratic civic activists such as Mark Galperin, as well as a number of nationalists, for example Gorsky, Beletsky, Romanov-Russky and Andrei Petrovsky. Maltsev has not officially been a member of the New Opposition's organizing committee, but has, from its inception, maintained ties with its leaders, helping, for example, to promote the rallies and attending the “walks” in person.
The raising of Maltsev’s profile meant that the blogger from Saratov came to gain more supporters and followers across different cities. They formed dozens of groups on social media websites under the general brand of Artpodgotovka. On these social media networks, they published broadcasts called Bad News, announced various demonstrations across different cities, published propaganda material, reported on past activities, etc. This led to a somewhat paradoxical situation: Artpodgotovka began to acquire some of the features of a political organization with regional branches, although no such organization officially existed at the time. As far as we can tell, the New Opposition was founded with the purpose of organizing and mobilizing these “activist resources”.
Particularly notable is the fact that, before the creation of the New Opposition, Basmanov’s KNS tried to win over Maltsev’s followers. Before the elections, Basmanov had started to rename his regional groups, removing his own brand and adding the word Artpodgotovka. Because of this, a whole string of organizations with titles along the lines of the Volgograd Nationalists: Artpodgotovka (Natsionalisty Volgograda. Artpodgotovka) appeared on VKontakte. It appears that Basmanov was hoping to attract the admirers of Maltsev’s YouTube channel to the organisations administered by the KNS. However, unlike the New Opposition that had the support by Maltsev himself, he was not very successful.
It must be noted that, despite the predominance of the ultra-right in the organizing committee and the support for Maltsev amongst the ultra-right rank-and-file, the New Opposition took great pains to dissociate itself from the radical right, instead presenting itself to the public as an egalitarian movement. For the ultra-right leaders of the New Opposition, this clearly presented some difficulties, because many supporters of the movement were not prepared to demonstrate alongside activists with different ideologies and, in all likelihood, were not always comfortable with a move away from the conventional forms of xenophobia. This seems to be why Dyomushkin’s supporters, including some who had taken part in Maltsev’s election campaign and the New Opposition demonstrations, began, in autumn, to talk of launching their own strictly ultra-right movement – the Party of Nationalists (Partiia Natsionalistov) – to represent in a range of joint opposition activities. Among the founders were Dyomushkin, Beletsky, Gorsky, and Romanov-Russky, Sergey Erokhov (of Demvybor [Democratic Choice]; ran in the Russian State Duma elections; campaign managed by Romanov-Russky), and Alexander Gruzinov (a municipal councillor and formerly a member of “The Russians”). The nationalists announced that they planned to secure a status of a political party and that they would soon submit the necessary documentation to the Ministry of Justice. It is quite clear that the party will be unable to formally register; however, participation in the process alone provides publicity for the new leaders and their movement, presenting them as victims of misuse of power by the government. Dyomushkin and his supporters have thus also secured their claim on the Party of Nationalists brand (Partiia Natsionalistov) – a brand already widely promoted by “The Russians” – and fostered a public perception of their role with the wider oppositional structures as representatives of some bigger organization.
The project of launching a political party is unlikely to bring much unity. Indeed, Basmanov – the head of the KNS, one of the former leaders of “The Russians” and a supporter of Maltsev – has called the project of registering the Party of Nationalists unrealistic and said that he and Dyomushkin had no plans to create any new organizations or movements together.
It is still quite difficult to gauge the potential impact of any new organization appearing in the wake of Maltsev’s pre-election campaign. Such organisation only took shape at the end of the year, and therefore no long-term trends have as yet emerged. At first, their activities gained much attention, but this was not because of what they achieved – rather, it was because they took place against a background of post-election calm and a decline in support for the “Russian Spring”
It must be said that it is largely thanks to Maltsev that those nationalists who do not share the same values as pro-Novorossiya supporters have, over the past year, developed a better relationship with the liberal movement and, as a result, gained a wider audience. This brings a renewed hope of wider support. The same goal was pursued – but never attained – by the ultra-right organizations when they joined the broad protest movements of 2011 and 2012. They did not attract new supporters, instead, by cooperating with the liberals, they had lost some of the old ones.
In December 2016, a new coalition of nationalist movements, the Coordination Council of National Forces (Koordinirovannyi Sovet Natsional’nykh Sil, KSNS), was announced. It was the initiative of the National Union of Russia (Natsional’nyi soiuz Rossii, NSR) that developed under the leadership of Vitaly Goriunov and Maxim Vakhromov (among others). This small organization warrants some attention: firstly, it is not based in either Moscow or St. Petersburg; secondly, unlike the other organizations mentioned above, it did not get sucked into the “Ukrainian schism” – anyone is welcome to join, irrespective of their stance on “Novorossiya”. Before the year was out, readiness to join the KSNS was announced by the leaders of the following: the St. Petersburg and Veliky Novgorod branches of Slavic Strength – North-West (Slavianskaia sila Severo-zapad); Russian Movement of Vologda(Russkoe dvizhenie Vologdy); the Novosibirsk organization Siberia 18 (Sibir’ 18); the Orel Front (Orlovskii front); the Pskov Russian Republic (Pskovskaia russkaia respublika); branches of the Russian All-People’s Union (Rossiiskii obshchenarodnyi soiuz) in Kaliningrad and Khabarovsk, and the NSR cells in Yekaterinburg, Krasnoyarsk and Tula. It seems that the primary concern of the KSNS will be coordinating the campaigns and demonstrations. In principle, given the geographic scatter of the cells, this should allow for the planning of such large-scale actions as the Russian March. Alternatively, it may allow the organisation to create an illusion that local events with more restricted agendas are, in fact, country-wide. It is worth bearing in mind that only some of the organizations that joined the KSNS are regionally significant for the ultra-right; others are small cells without any weight behind them. However, this does not matter to the KSNS, because it seems that the movement’s founders are more interested in the geographic spread than the absolute number of members. In any event, it is unlikely that the nationalists’ hope of regularly holding events in more than 10 regions at the same time and for the same cause will come to fruition. In practice, it seems that even branches of the same organization located in different cities struggle to coordinate events. If one takes into account the differences in ideologies and available resources across the various movements that have joined the KSNS, successful coordination seems all the less likely. Thus far, the KSNS has not even tried to organize anything; instead, it has focused on other activities such as creating social networks pages and publishing interviews with representatives from some of their member organizations.
Not all the nationalist organizations have participated in large coalitions and unions; some of them have continued to operate autonomously, developing along the course set in 2014–2015.
First and foremost, this is true of mainstream nationalist parties such as NOD and the Great Fatherland Party (PVO, Partiia “Velikoe otechestvo”). The Motherland party (Rodina) is somewhat of an exception here. In 2015, it seemed like Motherland was planning to poach supporters from the ultra-right. A youth wing called the TIGERs of Motherland (TIGRy Rodiny) was launched. Yet, in 2016, the party significantly scaled down its xenophobic propaganda and effectively disbanded the TIGERs. It seemed that the broader move away from xenophobia among the nationalist has been echoed by this relatively mainstream party.
There have been no significant changes in the pattern of public activities undertaken by the Other Russia – this despite Limonov officially stepping down in spring as the party’s leader and appointing in his place a “triumvirate” of activists: Aleksei Volynets, Andrei Dmitriev and Alexander Averin. It is likely that Limonov remains the de facto leader of Other Russia, but technically he is now only the head of the party’s executive committee. Except for Limonov’s short-lived membership of K25, the party has not tried to get involved in any coalition activities.
It is unclear whether Sergey Baburin’s Russian All-People’s Union(Rossiiskii obshchenarodnyi soiuz; ROS) is currently in operation. On the one hand, the website has hardly been updated (except for holiday greetings), and Baburin, the leader, has not made any appearances as a representative of ROS, nor have there been any signs of organized rallies. On the other, a number of the regional cells have continued to operate under the party name, including some of those whose leaders have joined the afore-mentioned KSNS.
There are still “holes” left by the organizations that were banned in 2014-15 and/or had become inactive after their leaders got caught up in criminal proceedings. For example: no new organizations emerged from Bobrov’s NSI; there is almost no sign of activity from Garina’s “The Russians of St.Petersburg”; no other parties have risen from the remains of Martsinkevich’s Restrukt!; Kolegov’s Frontier of the North has also completely ceased to exist.
Nationalists did not hold many public rallies in 2016, but the ones they did hold were quite varied. Aside from the annual events in support of ultra-right activists in prison (of which more shall be said later), the nationalists also demonstrated quite regularly for what is a decidedly random selection of causes, attempting to mobilize their support base and shore up cohesion on any pretext going. There were pickets against unrestricted sale of alcohol, rallies to commemorate the birthday of Tsar Nicholas II, and gatherings to protest the renaming of a bridge in St. Petersburg after Akhmad Kadyrov, the Chechen president killed in a terrorist attack. There was a laying of flowers at the site where defenders of the Moscow White House died during the coup attempt of 1991, actions in memory of those involved in the Tambov Rebellion (an anti-Bolshevik peasant revolt of 1920), and much else.
Nationalist engagement with this wide variety of causes was, first and foremost, a consequence of consistently being targeted by law-enforcement agencies, as well as the attempts to draw closer to other political factions. The latter has forced the nationalists to refrain from pushing their usual xenophobic agenda during public actions. Perhaps the only, and rather unsuccessful, attempts to return to the well-trodden anti-migrant ground were an unsuccessful picket in solidarity with the European ultra-right, attended by activists from the NDP, RID and Motherland held in February in St. Petersburg, and two pickets in support of “introducing a visa regime for Central Asian countries” which took place in St. Petersburg and Novosibirsk in March. The latter two rallies were led by the Pro-Visa coalition (Koalitsiia “Za Vizovyi Rezhim”), which was created by the NDP, RID and the Right Patriots after the high-profile murder of a four-year-old child by her Uzbek babysitter in Moscow. None of the three rallies above attracted many supporters or any media attention, even though they were based on high-profile events which were widely discussed in mainstream society.
Those among the nationalists who were more focused on their alliances with the liberals took part in a march in memory of Boris Nemtsov, the liberal politician who was killed in 2015. The march, organised by Nemtsov’s supporters, took place on 27 February. In Moscow, the march was attended by members of the following nationalist organizations: the KNS, Free Russia, Honor and Freedom, Dyomushkin’s group, RONA, RPP, and Aleksei Shiropaev’s National-Democratic Alliance (Natsional-demokraticheskii al’ians, NDA). Despite this impressive list of organizations, the turnout of nationalist activists was not great, especially as a proportion of the many thousands who attended in total – the nationalists accounted for only a few dozen.
The nationalists tried to participate in the long-haul truck-drivers’ protests against the Platon road-toll system. The drivers had been on strike over winter and spring and were supported by numerous opposition movements. Activists from the KNS and Free Russia tried to launch a campaign in support of the protesters: they visited the drivers’ camp in the Moscow suburb of Khimki, gave out flyers, and called on everyone who supported the drivers to come out in the streets – all with little success. In the end, they just joined the common protest rally in Moscow at the beginning of April. The nationalists were barely noticeable at this event. Aside from the truckers themselves, the bulk of the demonstrators were activists from liberal-democratic movements.
Starting from springtime, a significant proportion of the activities of those nationalists who had chosen to cooperate with other opposition movements and parties came to be devoted to the election campaigns. This resulted in, among other things, the increased popularity of Maltsev, the appearance of the Walks of the Opposition, and the creation of the New Opposition coalition.
The “Walks” have taken place in Moscow every Sunday since October. Interestingly, Mark Galperin has emerged as the leader of this movement, despite his appearance always being alongside Gorsky, Beletsky, Petrovsky and periodically Maltsev. Towards the end of the year, the “Walks” were held in other cities: St. Petersburg, Volgograd, Novosibirsk, Tula, and others. Yet nowhere was it truly a mass event. It never attracted more than a few dozen demonstrators. Sometimes there was only a handful. Nevertheless, during a period of calm, this new political activity attracted media attention – it was almost the only example of regular political protest.
Emboldened by success, the New Opposition announced plans to organize a string of “Anti-crisis Rallies”. They would demand that permits be granted for these events. And, if no permits were granted, they’d call for “people’s gatherings” (narodnye skhody) – with no need for any say-so from the authorities. This was indeed the form of the first Anti-Crisis rally. It took place on 3 December at the entrance to the Exhibition of Economic Achievements, a park and exhibition centre (VDNKh) in Moscow. A few dozens of people attended the uncoordinated rally to defend their right to gather. The nationalists in attendance included Maltsev, Beletsky, Gorsky, and Romanov-Russky. Some KNS activists also attended but not as part of the rally, rather as “observers”. It seems the latter wished to distance themselves from the protest of the rival organization. It is worth noting that the event was subsequently quite widely reported in the media – not so much because it attracted the attention of journalists in itself, but because three people were arrested (including Gorsky), and because it was attended by activists from the pro-Kremlin group S.E.R.B. (led by Gosha Tarasevich). The latter gathered in order to oppose the protest, but, in the end, refrained from doing so.
Another relatively sizeable event that one may associate with the New Opposition was Viacheslav Maltsev’s rally in defence of the Constitution, held on 11 December in the Sokolniki Park, Moscow. Dozens of activists took part (250 according to the nationalists, but this figure is likely exaggerated). There were speeches by Maltsev, Gorsky, and Galperin. The demonstration itself was led by Sergey Okunev, Maltsev’s co-presenter on Bad News. Same as in the previous case, the rally did not attract any media attention, but the arrest of Beletsky immediately beforehand received considerable coverage by several news outlets. This arrest and other instances of Beletsky receiving the attention of law-enforcement agencies provoked a new wave of allegations by the New Opposition concerning persecution of their leaders.
One amusing detail is that, since the alliance between the nationalists and the liberal-democrats is rather a strange one, journalists and political players alike often choose to ignore a given side of the New Opposition, calling the movement either just “liberal” or just “nationalist”. For example, Gosha Tarasevich describing the S.E.R.B.’s counter-rally against the New Opposition rally in Moscow denounced the latter as a gathering of “liberal Russophobes”, yet some media outlets presented it as a nationalist rally.
Yet it seems, the new alliance feels natural to some protesters. This is a cause for some concern. The lack of resistance to this liberal-democrat/radical-right partnership is partly explained by a belief in the potential efficacy of this large-scale anti-Putin coalition. Yet, it would seem that in a no smaller part it is driven by a common feeling of being persecuted by the state.
As a result of the steady pressure which the ultra-right has been subjected to in recent years, “anti-repression” actions have become an important part of the nationalist repertory. Most of the large organizations take part in such rallies in one way or another, regardless of where they fall with regard to the “Ukrainian issue”.
As will be seen below, it is predominantly the supporters of the “Russian Spring” who organize the targeted events, whereas the opponents prefer to tack battle against repression onto the agenda of the demonstrations that are, fundamentally, about other causes.
The first rally of the year was specifically devoted to the nationalists in prison. It was organized by the RNF. In January, the RNF announced a national action in support of Kirill Barabash, an activist from the Initiative Group of the Referendum For Responsible Power (IGPR “ZOV”) who had been arrested. But, apart from one-man pickets in Moscow and Kaliningrad, nothing came of it. That said, in Moscow the picket was not quite one-man in the end: around a dozen activists attended. Six of them were arrested. A more successful rally in support of imprisoned nationalists was held in St. Petersburg on 31 January. It was organized by members of Other Russia and attended by Great Russia, the NDP, RID and some left-wing organizations (to the displeasure of RID who disapprove of alliances with the left). It was reported that 150 people attended the rally, although no more than 40 people can be seen at any one time in the photos.
The next demonstration to be of any note was again organized by the RNF, who announced that rallies and small demonstrations would be held on 12 March in support of Kvachkov. These were held in 8 cities in total: a few dozen gathered in Moscow, Volgograd and Yekaterinburg, but the actions in St. Petersburg, Kazan, Kaliningrad, Nizhny Novgorod and Syktyvkar no more than half a dozen activists each. By the standards of 2016, these were notable events; however, precisely one year before, the RNF had organized a series of distinctly more prominent rallies demanding the repeal of Article 282 of the Criminal Code, which, unlike this year’s rallies, drew together many of the movements opposed to the “Russian Spring”.
In the summer, the subject of “repressions” was supposed to have been raised on the Russian Political Prisoner’s Day, but, for some reason, most of the nationalists seem to have ignored it. Altogether, at least 15 rallies were held in different cities on 25 and 26 July protesting Yarovaya’s Act and “repressions”. However, aside from Moscow, the attendance of the far right can only be confirmed in Volgograd, where there was a rally as well as a demonstration attended by Maltsev; in Saratov, where KNS activists turned out for the joint opposition rally; in Kaliningrad, where a single picketer arrived to represent the Baltic Vanguard of the Russian Resistance (Baltiiskii avangard russkogo soprpotivleniia, BARS); and in Kursk, where KNS members conducted an organized raid, and a one-person picket was held.
In the autumn, ultra-right activists twice revisited the theme of political prisoners.
Firstly, there was a rally in Moscow organized by the RNF and Other Russia and attended by approximately 50 people. Outside of the capital, single picketers also appeared in St. Petersburg and Kaliningrad.
Secondly, some of the ultra-right used the Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Political Repressions, traditionally held on 30 October, to draw attention to the persecution of their comrades. In the past, nationalists had always ignored this day, considering it to be “liberal”, but this year proved an exception. In Moscow, a “walk of opposition” was organized, which ended at the Solovetsky Stone (a boulder from the Solovki prison camp now placed in Lubyanka Square as a memorial to the victims of political repressions). Although RONA joined the walk, there were only around 50 people in attendance in total. Outside of Moscow, events were held in three other cities: in Kaliningrad BARS activists laid flowers at the memorial to the victims of political repressions; three NDP activists did the same in Novosibirsk; and in Saratov, 10 NOR supporters held pickets in support of Kvachkov.
In addition to the actions listed above, the issue of criminal prosecutions was also raised by Basmanov’s KNS and the nationalists from the New Opposition. In some cases, they did so during actions with an entirely unconnected agenda. Similarly, Dyomushkin’s supporters seemed to bring banners with demands for his release to all the political rallies they attended.
Heroes’ Day (Den’ Geroev), traditionally the first action of the year (normally held on 28 February or the nearest Saturday to commemorate the actions of Pskov paratroopers in Chechnya) went by almost unnoticed. In fact, it had attracted little interest in the two years previously.
What turned out particularly successful was the second of the regularly held nationalist actions, the Russian May Day (Russkii Pervomai).
In Moscow, Dyomushkin applied for a permit to stage the usual procession, despite having no legal right to do so. As expected, no permit was granted. So, same as in the previous year, the march never took place. The RNF’s alternative procession, once again, turned out to be the main one – and the only one. Despite it being the only event, the RNF only managed to attract around 100 people, roughly one third fewer than in the previous two years.
In St. Petersburg too, the nationalists had little success. As per established tradition, the ultra-right did not attempt to organize their own rallies, but rather participated in joint city-wide marches. The participants included: a group of activists from Other Russia; a joint procession of RNF and NDP members; as well as members of the Slavic Strength – North-West and autonomous neo-Nazis, who marched under the slogan “For Slavic and White Unity”. In all, approximately 100 people took part in Russian May Day demonstrations in St. Petersburg in 2016 (also one third fewer than the year before).
Aside from Moscow and St. Petersburg, demonstrations took place in five other cities: Veliky Novgorod, Yekaterinburg, Nizhny Novgorod, Penza and Pskov. By comparison to the year before, the geographical spread remained small, while the number of participants continued to fall.
In fact, nationalists also ignored the Victims of Ethnic Crime Remembrance Day, which for many years they commemorated around 1 October.
It is also worth noting two further events which took place in the first half of 2016 and which seem to have become annual and something of a tradition.
The first is the Day of the Nation of Russia, which Other Russia proposed to celebrate on 5 April every year. Limonov suggested it as an alternative to the ultra-right nationalists’ demonstrations on May Day and as an event to coincide with Alexander Nevsky’s victory in the Battle on the Ice (a battle between the Novgorodians and a crusader army that took place on the frozen surface of Lake Peipus in 1242). In 2016, celebrations were held on this date in 16 cities: Moscow, St. Petersburg, Barnaul, Veliky Novgord, Volgograd, Voronezh, Kazan, Kirov, Krasnoyarsk, Nizhny Novgorod, Orenburg, Rostov-on-Don, Sarov, Taganrog, Ulyanovsk and Donetsk. There were rallies in some cities, as well as pickets, open gatherings, lectures and round tables in others. In different cities different people came: there were members of the NDP, RNF, Nikolai Starikov’s PVO, and other local organizations. Despite the geographical spread (large for a first-time event), the Day of the Nation of Russia can hardly be considered successful because of the low turnout, even in Moscow and St. Petersburg (only about 50 people in each case).
The second activity considered to be a new “tradtional” event is the commemoration of those who died in the Trade Union House in Odessa on 2 May 2014. As we mentioned, last year, the NDP organized and led rallies in 7 cities across Russia, gathering some dozens of people. This year, it was K25 that organized the rally. It was a chance for the new organisation to make its presence known. In the end, Strelkov, Krylov, Zhivov, Ivan Okhlobystin and other persons of varying levels of prominence came to Moscow for the rally; it turned out to be quite successful and attracted around 250–300 people. However, the event was less successful in other cities: around 50 people gathered in St. Petersburg; 20 people in Ufa commemorated the day by laying flowers; four K25 members handed out leaflets in Krasnodar; and four people gathered for a picket in Voronezh – but that was organized by Great Russia under the leadership of Andrei Savelyev, not by K25.
As happens every year, the nationalists direct the bulk of their efforts towards preparing their main event, the Russian March. This time, the fight for the traditional Moscow procession in Lublino started in August when the competition intensified between the heirs of “The Russians”: Dyomushkin and his supporters on one side and Basmanov’s KNS on the other. In August, the KNS published an updated list of the members of the Central Organizing Committee of the Russian March. Included were several leaders of the regional ultra-right movements who had been charged under Article 282 of the Criminal Code. Dyomushkin, however, was not on the list.
Dyomushkin was quick off the mark, and as early as September, tried to organize a march. He applied to the city hall for permission and called on “all Russian nationalists to abandon mutual resentment and personal grievances for a common purpose” so as to get together for a joint event. During September and October, both leaders actively promoted the Russian March; however, they practically ignored each other, posting links to different Russian March groups on VKontakte. It was hard to tell whether they were talking of the same event or two different ones. In the end, a “backstage” decision was reached that it would be a joint procession, and that the “Dyomushkin Group” would be tasked with the filing of applications. Thus started a rather long saga of getting approval for the march. As a result, the process of getting approval for the event – thanks to the rejection of many applications, the detention of D. Dyomushkin, and the debates concerning potentially re-delegating the task of filing the applications to one of the liberals (such as Mikhail Kasyanov) – almost turned out to be more high-profile than the event itself.
Those who took part in the traditional procession on November 4 included: Dyomushkin’s associates, Maltsev’s supporters, KNSmembers, some Orthodox Gonfaloniers (Pravoslavnye harugvenostsy), activists of the Black NS Block (Chernyi NS Blok), the National Socialist Revolutionary Movement ( Natsional-sotsialisticheskoe revolutsionnoe dvizhenie, NSRD), the Black Sun (Chernoe solntse, effectively a division of the NS), the Free Russia (Svobodnaia Rossia), Istarkhov’s RPP, and a string of “non-aligned” ultra-right activists.
These are roughly the same people as a year ago, except for the absence of RONA and For Honor and Freedom (Za chest’ i svobodu). One can also point out some unusual newcomers to the procession, namely a representative of the Ombudsman of Ukraine in Russia, Vladimir Shreydler, a candidate for the State Duma from PARNAS for the Leningrad Region, Alexander Rastorguev, and the leader of the Walks of the Opposition (Progulki oppozitsii), Mark Galperin.
They used the traditional slogans, chants and banners, except for those that had been banned in advance or directly before the march. According to the ultra-right, the banners demanding the release of Alexander Belov, Dmitriy Dyomushkin, and generic “political prisoners” were the first to be disallowed. Then, during the inspection of the banners on entry to the march, the following were also seized: “Moscow trusts no guests” (Moskva gostiam ne verit), “To be Russian is to be a warrior” (Byt’ russkim – znachit byt’ voinom), “Down with the dictatorship!” (Doloi diktaturu!) and “Impeachment! Lustration! Desovietization!” (Impichment! Liustratsiia! Desovetisatsiia!).
The march finished in an unconventional way: towards the end, Yury Gorsky urged the participants to go to the Red Square and lay flowers at the monument of Minin and Pozharsky – within the framework of Walks of the Opposition. In the end, about 25 people wearing scarves with Russian imperial symbols, including Gorsky and Galperin themselves, made it to the monument.
The observers from the SOVA Centre estimate that about 800 people took part in the march; this is slightly more than a year ago (about 700 people). Despite the slight increase, the event cannot be called a success. It is worth recalling that, in 2014, when the march was considered a failure, about two thousand people gathered in Lublino. However, the organizers are not inclined to pessimism and see a great success in the very fact that it was at all possible to coordinate the procession without losing the last year’s participants, despite the counteractive pressure from the authorities and the arrests of many ultra-right leaders.
A second event took place in Moscow on November 4, along the established route between the Oktyabrskoe Pole metro station and Shchukinskaya metro station. This was organized by the Russian National Front coalition. The procession passed under the slogan of “Russian March without the Liberasts, Kremlians, or Banderites” and was attended by activists from the following organizations: the Union of the Orthodox Gonfaloniers (Soiuz Pravoslavnykh Khorugvenostsev), Igor Sobolev’s Monarchist Party of Russia (Monarkhicheskaia Partiia Rossii), the People’s Militia of Russia (Narodnoe Opolchenie Rossii, NOR), the Great Russia party (Velikaia Rossia), Vladimir Filin’s movement For the Nationalization and Deprivatisation of Strategic Resources of the country(Za Natsionalizatsiiu i Deprivatizatsiiu Strategicheskikh Resursov Strany), Pavel Vasiliev’s Russian Imperial Movement (Russkoe Imperskoe Dvizhenie, RID), the Black Hundred (Chernaia Sotnia), and the Union of the Russian People (Soiuz Russkogo Naroda). During the march the ex-deputy of the LDPR (Liberal-Demokraticheskaia Partiia Rossii) Nikolai Kuryanovich, the head of the Institute of High Communitarianism (Institut Vysokogo Kommunitarisma), Kirill Myamlin, Elena Rokhlina (Fund for the Families of Volunteers – Fond Pomoshchi Sem’iam Dobrovol’tsev), Maksim Kalashnikov, Nadezhda Kvachkova (NOR) were also seen.
According to Savelyev, there were attempts to censor the banners and chants of the procession, but they failed. Apparently, one of the chants that the authorities didn’t like was “A Russian Government – for Russia!” which was shouted by the participants louder and in a more organized manner than the rest.
The procession was followed by the traditional rally. About 320-350 people took part in this action. That is approximately as many as a year ago when about 360 activists gathered in Oktyabrskoe Pole. Thus, this march failed to grow in attendance, which is hardly surprising given the rather low activity of the various movements-members of the RNF.
There was another event on November 4, the rally For Russian Solidarity, a gathering of Igor Strelkov’s supporters in Suvorov Square. The following movements participated: Novorossiya, NDP, and RGO. There were also Cossacks, one person with a NOD flag, and some people with imperial flags.
The rally was addressed by I. Strelkov, Anton Popov, Vladimir Tor, Alexander Sevastyanov, Mikhail Butrimov (My Backyard, Moi Dvor), Sergey Moiseev (the Triune Rus, Rus’ triedinaia, Kharkov;) and others. The rally was led by Zhivov.
This event was the least attended of all, it only gathered about 200 people, which is quite strange, considering the once high popularity of Igor Strelkov. Maybe, this was down to the fact that the information about the rally only appeared a few days before November 4 and was disseminated extremely sluggishly.
Thus, if one were to sum up the events in Moscow, one could say that attendance was almost the same as last year – there is some increase in the number of activists, but it is really quite small. Yet, in the regions, the nationalists’ situation was clearly worse than last year: in 2015, the Russian March took place in 23 cities other than Moscow; in 2016, just 11. Moreover, in some cases the nationalists couldn’t find anyone who would be willing to apply for permission.
In St. Petersburg, same as last year, the march failed to take place. The nationalists’ collective application for a procession in the centre of the city was not approved, and the proposed alternative – the route through Polyustrovsky Park – did not suit the ultra-right activists themselves. In the end, pickets in St. Petersburg took place on Nevsky Prospect on November 4. They drew several activists with placards and “imperial” flags (black-yellow-white) and included a charity concert organized by RID and its militant wing, the Imperial Legion club (Imperskii Legion) and the Veterans of Novorossiya (Veterany Novorossii). The funds raised were intended for the “treatment for the fighters”.
Beside Moscow, the only city where the nationalists managed even a slightly higher attendance for their events on November 4 was Novosibirsk. Two marches took place there: one by the supporters of “Novorossiya”, who gathered about 150 people, and one by its opponents, whose procession counted about 100 activists. A year ago, the only action that took place here was the one in support of LNR and DNR (the breakaway republics in the Luhansk and Donetsk regions of Ukraine), which was attended by about 120 people. Despite a clear increase, the attendance of the march as a whole is still far from what one saw in 2014 when the procession in support of “Novorossiya” alone gathered about 400 people.
The parliamentary elections on September 18, 2016, unexpectedly turned out to be a most important event for the nationalists. In many ways, it shaped the direction and nature of their public activity for almost the entire year.
As already noted in the previous sections, the starting point here was the primaries of the Democratic Coalition, unexpectedly won by the Saratov blogger Maltsev who was subsequently included in the federal list of the PARNAS party.
The candidate ran a relatively high-profile election campaign, which included all the necessary attributes: meetings with voters, rallies, “information cubes” (a type of street-level poster display popular with Russian political campaigners), and participation in televised debates on mainstream channels. The Moscow headquarters of the candidate were managed by Beletsky. The head of the election campaign was Dyomushkin. The latter appeared several times on the Bad News programme and, on one occasion, even managed to take part in a debate on the Russia-1 television channel.
In addition to those who immediately participated in Maltsev’s election campaign, several of the ultra-right groups that share the Saratov blogger’s views on the “Ukrainian question” (e.g. RONA) also promoted him and the PARNAS party.
Particularly diligent in this respect was the Nation and Freedom Committee, which not only published appeals to support the only nationalist with a chance to get to the State Duma but also consistently tried to convert those who had decided to boycott the elections and called on all willing to help with the campaign.
A video in support of PARNAS was also released by Istarkhov. He too urged his supporters to vote for PARNAS and Maltsev. Istarkhov was openly positive about the alliance between the “old liberals” and the nationalists, referring to it as the consolidation of the “healthy forces” bound together by a desire for Putin’s departure. Maltsev was also supported by the former head the State Press Committee of the Russian Federation and author of several banned anti-Semitic books, Boris Mironov, who even spoke at one of the PARNAS election campaign rallies.
It’s worth mentioning that, while the KNS and some individual activists were promoting PARNAS and Maltsev ever more actively as the elections drew nearer, Dyomushkin, on the contrary, withdrew from the campaign several weeks before the elections. Commenting on this decision, he said that he had done his best and was not in a position to exert further influence on the course of the campaign. Dyomushkin also noted that he did not always agree with the way Maltsev conducted himself on TV, mentioning in passing that PARNAS have ignored his recommendations and even Maltsev himself, being a nationalist, was constantly forced to seek compromises with this liberal party.
Beside Maltsev and his associates naturally becoming the object of furious criticism by the supporters of the current political regime (the Saratov blogger was mainly accused of preparing a Russian “Maidan”), he was far from universally supported by the ultra-right.
For example, Igor Mogilev (a nationalist, the organizer of Russian Marches in Volgograd, tried under Articles 282 and 280 of the Criminal Code) recorded a video, where he called Maltsev a provocateur who could get away with insulting the current authorities and the head of state, while ordinary nationalists were “banged up for re-posts” on social media. The video also condemned “friendship with the liberals” who, according to Mogilev, are “enemies” of the nationalists.
A sentiment similar to Mogilev’s was also expressed by Strelkov, who after watching Maltsev’s broadcasts and speeches on TV said: “Kungurov, as far as I can see (...) has been banged up for less. Yet here we have absolutely no reaction from the authorities. Moreover, the man has already wormed his way onto the federal TV channels. So he’s got back-up – he’s got certain “guarantees” that allow him to say things like “a tsar like that should be up on a stake” [executed by impaling] and to set dates for the revolution”.
Maltsev was also criticized by the leaders of the RNF’s member-organizations. For example, Savelyev stated that, in his opinion, Maltsev is a puppet, necessary to the authorities in order to scare people with “Nazis” and “Maidan”, and to discredit the “Russian movement”. Krylov, in essence, agreed with Savelyev: he proposed that Maltsev was a victim of manipulation by the authorities.
Other PARNAScandidates, beside Maltsev, also got some support from members of the ultra-right.
For example, Romanov-Russky headed the electoral headquarters of Sergey Erokhov (Demvybor), nominated in Moscow for the 203rd single-member district. Like other Duma candidates who were supported by the nationalists, Erokhov advocated the introduction of a visa regime for the Central-Asian countries, the abolition of Article 282 of the Criminal Code, and was prepared to cooperate with the nationalists.
The KNS quite actively promoted its activist Vladimir Avdonin, nominated in Samara for the 160th district. In the past, Avdonin was the leader of the Samara branch of Great Russia and the national-conservative movement Volzhane; after a period away from activism, he joined the KNS. Avdonin was also supported by RONA.
The leader of the movement Honour and Freedom, Samokhin, ran for the 157th Skopinskiy electoral district (Ryazan Region), also as a PARNAS candidate. The campaign was quite active in the beginning but soon almost petered out, probably because of the movement’s inadequate resources, both financial and human.
On the whole, for this group of nationalist, the main slogan of the pre-election race was “Against Putin means for PARNAS”.
Those among the ultra-right who consider themselves supporters of the “Russian Spring” and, at the same time, are against the current political regime mostly ignored this election campaign (not counting some isolated criticisms from Maltsev). The exception was the RNF, which at least called for a boycott of the elections as illegitimate.
Near-nationalist organizations from among those more or less loyal to the current regime also joined the electoral process.
What proved quite interesting was the campaign conducted by the head of the National-Conservative Movement Valentina Bobrova, who ran for the Duma as the Green Party candidate for the 89th constituency (Voronezh). A particular “edge” was lent to the situation by the fact that her main opponent was the leader ofMotherland, Alexey Zhuravlev (for whom the ruling party had “set aside” the district). Although the two candidates are, in theory, ideologically close, the pair of them became embroiled in a proper row, with an exchange of public accusations and scurrilous articles.
Having now mentioned the Motherland party, we must note that, among its single-mandate candidates, there were two Spartak football team fans: Alexey Avdokhin and Alexey Usachev. Both ran in the Vladimir Region. The party actively promoted Usachev as a participant of a brawl with migrants from the Caucasus region that took place near the Evropeysky (“European”) shopping centre in Moscow in 2012. It seems, the hope was to attract not so much football fans as ordinary xenophobes.
Nikolay Starikov’s Great Fatherland Party (PVO)was unable to participate in the elections. It failed to register its federal list of candidates, and the single-mandate candidates could not register either. Subsequent to that, the PVO supported Motherland. In addition to that, the PVO also published a list of single-mandate candidates it supported. Although the list included candidates from United Russia (Edinaia Rossiia, the governing party), one cannot say that the PVO supported the ruling party unequivocally. When an activist from the PVO’s Moscow branch, Nina Lvova, recorded and distributed a video clip, calling on the members of the organisation to support “Putin’s party”, she was threatened with expulsion. It is noteworthy that Lvova is also a member of the NOD and, probably, made the video with the NOD position in mind. (NOD supported “United Russia”.)
The NOD not only promoted “Putin’s party” but also supported candidates of its own who entered on various federal candidate lists: the leader of the organization, Yevgeniy Fedorov (United Russia), Maria Katasonova (Motherland), Roman Zykov (Patriots of Russia).
Despite a rather active election campaign in all sectors of the nationalist movement, in the end, there was almost nothing to boast about. The only single-mandate candidates that got into the Duma were the leaders of unambiguously pro-government movements: A. Zhuravlev (Motherland), Dmitry Sablin (Anti-Maidan and Combat Brotherhood), Alexey Balyberdin (Anti-Maidan), and Vitaly Milonov (United Russia). From the party’s federal candidate list, only Fedorov, head of the NOD, managed to get into the lower house of the Federal Assembly.
Here are the results for the candidates listed above:
- S. Erokhov (Demvybor): 7th out of 11 in the district. Nominated by PARNAS.
- A. Avdonin (KNS): 7th out of 12 in the district. Nominated by PARNAS.
- A. Samokhin (Honor and Freedom): 8th out of 10 in the district. Nominated by PARNAS.
- V. Bobrova (NKD): 5th out of 10 in the district. Nominated by the Green Party.
- A. Avdokhin: 9th out of 10 in the district. Nominated by Motherland.
- A. Usachev: 7th out of 9 in the district. Nominated by Motherland.
- M. Katasonova (NOD): 8th out of 13 in the district. Nominated by Motherland.
- R. Zykov (NOD): 9th out of 9 in the district. Nominated by the Patriots of Russia party.
Naturally, given the strong start and the weak finish, the election left the majority of the nationalists dissatisfied. Most of them just poured their indignation into posts on the Internet. The half-hearted attempts to hold an action “For Fair Elections” came to nothing. The discontent remained passive, which makes the current situation fundamentally different from that of 2011.
The raiding activity of the ultra-right was relatively low in 2016. Like other types of activity, raids suffered significantly in 2014 and 2015 due to the proactive work of the law-enforcement agencies, which resulted in criminal cases being brought against the leaders of many raiding groups (Nikolay Bondarik, Dmitry Bobrov, Alexey Kolegov, Maksim Martsinkevich and others). Some have ended up behind the bars.
Probably the only action that really attracted attention was Datsik’s shocking “anti-brothel” raid which finished with naked employees of an erotic salon being forced to march to the police station and the subsequent arrest of Datsik himself.
The only more or less consistently popular raids are those with an anti-alcohol agenda, primarily those carried out by such politically inactive movements as the Sober Backyards (Trezvye dvory) and The LionObjects (Lev protiv). Of course, this does not mean that anti-migrant raids do not happen at all, but they are no longer a mass phenomenon.
Last year, the nationalists clearly preferred less public forms of activity to raiding projects.
The numerous military training courses and the societies that organise various types of combat training (knife and hand-to-hand combat courses), which became popular when the conflict in Ukraine took a turn for the worse, are still functioning, but they are definitely attracting less attention. It appears, the sharp increase in demand for such courses in response to general militarization has been saturated, and presently the nationalist social media pages are no longer overflowing with the advertising for the old and the new initiatives of this kind.
Still popular are sports-cum-entertainment events, such as various “festivities”, “wild swims”, “runs”, and competitions of all kinds.
Perhaps, it is worth mentioning the growth in attractiveness of club-like activities: lectures, debates, and discussions. This format is especially (though not exclusively) popular with the supporters of the “Russian Spring”.
In 2016, the number of convictions for violent hate crimes decreased compared to the previous year. In 2016, there were at least 19 convictions in 15 regions of Russia, where the courts recognized a hate motive (compared to 25 convictions in 19 regions in 2015). As a result of these court cases, 44 people were found guilty (vs. 61 people in 2015).
Racist violence, defined by its motive of hatred, is dealt with in the following articles of the Criminal Code: Article 105, Part. k (“Murder committed by reason of hatred”), Article 112, Partt.2.f (“Intentional infliction of injury of average gravity by reason of hatred”), Article 115, Part. 2.b (“Intentional infliction of light injury by reason of hatred”), Article 213, Part. 2 (“Hooliganism by reason of hatred”); Article 116, Part 2.b (“Battery by reason of hatred”), Article 111, Part. 2.f (“Intentional Infliction of a grave injury by reason of hatred”). This is the “typical selection” of the past three years.
Article 282 of the Criminal Code (“Incitement of hatred”) figured in 7 convictions for violent crimes (almost the same as last year). In all instances, this article was used in conjunction with other articles in large multiple-defendant trails or trials of members of ultra-right factions, such as the members of the neo-Nazi gang 14/88 from Moscow or the RNE supporter in Omsk. In four cases, the incitement of hatred was invoked in connection with the calls for violence on the Internet that accompanied actual violence. In three cases, there were calls for xenophobic violence made during an attack in a public place. As we have pointed out on several occasions, Ruling No 11 of the Plenary session of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation of 28 June 2011 (“On Judicial Practice in Criminal Cases Involving Crimes of Extremism”) specifies that it is appropriate to apply Article 282 of the Criminal Code to violent crimes, if there is intent to incite third parties to hatred – for example, if the public and ideologically motivated attack is demonstrative in nature. In such cases, Article 282 should be used in combination with another appropriate article of the Criminal Code (“Murder”, “Battery”, etc.). Which was exactly the scenario the aforementioned “guilty” verdict pertained to.
The distributions of sentences in violent crime cases was as follows:
- 1 person was sentenced to 18 years imprisonment;
- 2 people were sentenced to up to 15 years imprisonment;
- 7 people were sentenced to up to 10 years imprisonment;
- 14 people were sentenced to up to 5 years imprisonment;
- 9 people were sentenced to up to 3 years imprisonment;
- 3 people were sentenced to up to 1 year imprisonment;
- 4 people were given suspended sentences;
- 3 people were sentenced to a fine
- 1 person was released from punishment due to reconciliation with the victim.
Two people were additionally compelled to pay compensation for non-pecuniary damages. One of them was the neo-Nazi Andrey Malyugin, who received 18 years in prison for two hate-motivated murders. The court awarded compensation for non-pecuniary damages to the families of the victims: 1 million roubles to each family. We think it is quite right that offenders should pay such compensation. Among other things, the money compensates, at least in part, for the loss of income associated with an earning family member. In all cases, we also agree with the compensation being awarded for material damages, as well as the bearing by the attacker of any medical costs incurred by the victim. Unfortunately, we are not aware of any verdicts from 2016 where this was put into practice.
9% of those convicted (4 out of 44) received suspended sentences; this share is lower than a year earlier (44%). Three out of those who received suspended sentences were defendants in large group trials (some were minors). They include members of the afore-mentioned neo-Nazi group 14/88. Apparently, participation in the attacks could not be proved, or, perhaps, a deal had been made with the prosecution. The fourth case is that of a 17 year old teenager, who subjected to battery a 15 year old member of the “emo” subculture in Vladimir.
In general, the reduction in the number of suspended sentences for violent crimes is a positive trend. Our opinion, formed after many years of monitoring this sector, is that suspended sentences for violent racist attacks, in the overwhelming majority of cases, tend to engender a sense of impunity and do not stop ideologically motivated offenders from committing such acts in the future. For example, the afore-mentioned member of the Borovikov-Voevodin group, Malyugin, was acquitted by a jury on 14 June 2011 (the case involved the entire gang). Soon after his release in August 2011, he was detained again because he almost immediately went on to commit two more murders. He was armed and resisted arrest.
Yet such releases were few in number. As the data above suggests, the majority of those convicted of violent offences were still sentenced to various amounts of time in prison. Those who received prison sentences in 2016 included members of notable radical-right groups such as 14/88 and Restrukt! (from Moscow), and the RNE (from Omsk).
In 2016, there were fewer convictions for ethno-religious and neo-Nazi motivated vandalism than a year earlier; the number of sentences proved to be the same as in 2014. We are aware of 5 sentencing decisions across 5 regions and 6 individual convicted offenders in 2016 (vs. 8 sentencing decisions, 7 regions and 14 offenders in 2015; 4 sentencing decisions, 4 regions and 6 offenders in 2014).
All four cases involved charges under Article 214 of the Criminal Code (“Vandalism by reason of religious hatred”). And only in one case, the case of adolescents from Vologda who defiled a mosque on Hitler’s birthday was Article 282 of the Criminal Code invoked alongside Article 214.
The two defilers of the mosque in Vologda were sentenced to corrective labour. Two more offenders were sentenced to restriction of liberty. These two were the vandal who cut down a wayside cross in Vyatskiye Polyany, Kirov Region, and the resident of Vladimir who painted the emblem of the Azov Battalion (and wrote slogans on a bridge across a river. Two more people were sent for compulsory medical treatment: the resident of Chelyabinsk Region who painted a swastika and symbols of the Azov Battalion on the monument to the Liberator Soldiers and a member of the Right Tatars society (Pravye Tatary) from Kazan, Emil Kamalov, who is accused of desecrating the church of the Saviour Not Made by Hands and other acts of ideologically driven vandalism.
We do not wish to make judgements concerning the accuracy of the forensic and medical examinations conducted or draw conclusions about mental state of the offenders. But we consider correctional labour and restriction of freedom quite adequate as punishment for the acts committed.
Yet it still seems debatable to us, which objects can be considered “vandalizable” and what methods “count”. For example can graffiti on the bridge truly be regarded as an act of vandalism? Thanks to the dual nature of such offences, certain similar crimes (desecration of buildings, houses, fences, etc.) have for many years been, in practice, tried not under Article 214 but under Article 282 of the Criminal Code (see next section).
The number of convictions for “speech of an extremist nature” (incitement to hatred, calls to extremist or terrorist activities, etc) remains higher than the total number of all other extremism-related convictions. In 2016, no fewer than 181 such sentences were passed upon 198 people in 64 regions of the country. One may cautiously suggest, that the number of convictions was still down on the year: in 2015, there were at least 204 such convictions, and 213 people were found guilty (plus one more person released due to remorseful actions) in 60 regions of the country. We are not counting the convictions that we consider unlawful, which are relatively few in number.
Interestingly, there were fewer public speech convictions in the second half of 2016, and their number dropped in the second half of the year compared to the first. (Also, notably fewer people were imprisoned for speech of an extremist nature.) It is hard to tell what caused this drop in the activity of the law-enforcement agencies. The head of the international human rights organization “Agora” Pavel Chikov also notes that there has been a reduction in the number of politically motivated criminal cases. However, he points out that “one should not talk of an improvement, so much as of a slowing down of deterioration”. He attributes this slowing down to the forthcoming presidential elections.While we do not wish to make any judgements of a political nature, it is important to note that this is the first time since 2011 that we have recorded a year-on-year fall in convictions for public speech offences. (Before 2011, there was also an overall upward trend, albeit with some year-on-year exceptions.)
It is possible that this slight drop does not reflect a real downward trend in such convictions but is rather an artefact of our incomplete data set. Unfortunately, the Judicial Department of the Supreme Court has not yet released detailed statistics concerning the number of convictions under various articles of the Criminal Code in 2016. However, there is summary data for combined convictions under Articles 280, 2801(“Public appeals for the performance of activity directed at breaching the territorial integrity of the Russian Federation”), 282, 2821, 2822 and 2823 (“Financing of extremist activity”) of the Criminal Code. Their number has grown compared to 2015: from 544 to 661 people. Yet it is impossible to tell whether this growth is down to the convictions for public speech offences (Articles 280, 2801, 282 of the Criminal Code) or for participation in certain organizations and communities (Articles 2821, 2822).
All the same, it may be asserted that the conviction rate for speech of an extremist nature has decreased or, at least, not risen noticeably. This is, in itself, a contrast to the sharp increase in 2015 (up to 213, compared to the 159 in 2014). Taking into account that the investigations in such cases usually last from six months to a year (and sometimes, of course, much longer), we can say that the slow-down in the launch of new criminal cases began back in the second half of 2015 and was clearly discernible by the first half of year 2016. It is likely that this is connected to the gradual relaxation of the general state of high alert triggered by the war in Ukraine and to the fact that the goals concerning the suppression of the ultra-right have largely been reached. One may also hope that the rising public outcry precipitated by the scale and nature of such recourse to the criminal law has also played its role.
The majority of convictions (157 convictions, 173 offenders) were under Article 282 of the Criminal Code. In 115 of the cases, this was the only article used in sentencing. In 22 convictions (of 22 offenders), only Article 280 of the Criminal Code was used (“Public Appeals for the Performance of Extremist Activity”). In 16 cases, it was used in conjunction with Article 282 of the Criminal Code.
In one case, the frequently used Article 280 was combined with Article 2801 of the Criminal Code(“Public appeals for the performance of activity directed towards breaching the territorial integrity of the Russian Federation”). We are talking about the second sentencing of Andrey Bubeyev in Tver, which received considerable popular attention.
In one other case, Article 3541 Part 1 of the Criminal Code was called on (“Denial of facts established by the verdict of the International Military Tribunal for the trial and punishment of the major war criminals of the European Axis countries, approval of the offenses established by the said judgment, as well as dissemination of false information about the activities of the Soviet Union during the Second World War”). In three cases, it was used in conjunction with Article 282 of the Criminal Code; in one other case, with Articles 282 and 280. So far, the new article seems to have little impact on the severity of the punishment.
Articles 282 and 280 of the Criminal Code may also have accompanied accusations under other articles, including those pertaining to acts of violence and vandalism (see sections Criminal Prosecution: for violence and Criminal Prosecution: for vandalism).
In 10 sentencing decisions, Article 2052 of the Criminal Code was called on (“Public Calls for Committing of Terrorist Activity”). In 2 case, Article 2052 was used on its own; in another 6, in conjunction with Article 282 of the Criminal Code; in 2 more, in conjunctions with Article 280. As usual, in the majority of the cases (8 in total), this article was invoked in connection with radical Islamist statements, including statements pertaining to the war in Syria. Also, same as in the previous year, there was one case where it was invoked in connection with anti-Russian statements connected to the events in Ukraine. The case involved a supporter of the Right Sector.
Some sentencing decisions warrant special consideration. Firstly, there is the sentence issued in the case of the de facto leader of “The Russians” and formerly the leader of the Movement against Illegal Immigration (Dvizhenie protiv nelegal’noi immigratsii, DPNI) , Alexander Belov (Potkin). Belov was found guilty under Articles 282, 280 and 2821 of the Criminal Code, and Article 174 (“The Legalisation (Laundering) of Funds and Other Property Acquired by Other Persons Illegally”). He was sentenced to a total of 7.5 years in a general-regime colony. Political activists and human right activists reacted rather equivocally to Belov’s case. In July 2015, the Union of Solidarity with Political Prisoners( Soiuz solidarnosti s politzakliuchennymi, SSP) recognised Belov as a political prisoner. At the same time, Belov was absent from the political prisoner list of the “Memorial” Human Rights Center. The SOVA Center does not maintain any kind of a register of political prisoners; however, we do not believe that Belov may be considered a political prisoner for the reasons cited by the SSP. Yet, it seems fair to say that, for crimes of a non-violent nature, such a sentence is excessive. However, it seems that the bulk of Belov’s prison term is not for xenophobic actions but for financial machinations, a class of crimes typically punished by long sentences.
Another case that warrants attention is the sentencing of the schoolboy Kirill Benetsky by Moscow District Military Court under Articles 280 and 208 of the Criminal Code (“Aiding and abetting participation in an armed formation”). The schoolboy, still a minor, made 3 social media posts containing calls for extremist action. On reaching majority, he travelled to Ukraine and joined the Right Sector. According to the investigators, Benetsky received general physical training, training in sabotage, and ideological training, after which he joined the ranks of an illegal armed formation. Fearing for his life, he fled the Right Sector in April 2016 and was detained by the law enforcement agencies in Bryansk Region on 1 May. Benetsky was sentenced to 6.5 years in a strict-regime colony. This was later commuted to 6 years and 4 months.
Another “aiding and abetting” sentence under Article 208 of the Criminal Code (unaccompanied by any addition extremism-related charges) was imposed on the former member of NS/WP Nevograd, Kirill ”Vegan” Prisiazhniuk. In December 2016 a court in Chechnya sentenced the former neo-Nazi to 4 years in prison. Earlier, in June 2014, he was sentenced to 3 years imprisonment under Article 33; Article 105, Part 2, clauses .a, g and k; Article 282, Part 2, clauses 1 and c; and Article 213, Part 2 of the Criminal Code. He had been recruited by the Islamic State in the Kresty Prison, St. Petersburg. According to a cellmate who is the former leader of a neo-Nazi organisation, Anton K., “He listened to the music by Timur Mutsuraev,was inspired by the fighters,and so on... He tattooed a Jihadi banner on his leg...”. When Prisiazhniuk left prison, he travelled to the Caucasus, where he married a Muslim woman and became a recruiter for the Islamic State. In particular, he helped one Larisa Abubakarova to travel to Syria. He later tried to travel to Syria himself, but was apprehended at the border on 3 December 2015.
The distribution of sentences was as follows:
- 39 people received custodial sentences;
- 82 people received suspended sentences with no additional punishment;
- 20 people were fined various amounts;
- 12 people were sentenced to correctional labor;
- 37 people were sentenced to mandatory labor;
- 2 people received suspended correctional labor sentences;
- 2 people were sentenced to educational intervention;
- 2 people were sent for compulsory treatment;
- 2 people were released due to statute of limitations.
The majority of the 39 people who had received custodial sentences were convicted on multiple charges. Thus, in conjunction with public speech offences, they would also have been charged under articles pertaining to violence, vandalism, theft, or drug possession and sentenced accordingly. The prison terms may also have reflected earlier suspended sentences. Or, alternatively, the offender may already have been in prison and had his term increased.
Three people were convicted of repeat offences involving “speech of an extremist nature”, which substantially lengthens the prison term. Two had earlier convictions but had not yet started the prison terms they had been sentenced to. Among those to receive repeat convictions was the afore-mentioned Andrey Bubeyev as well as a 30-year-old singer from Kostroma, convicted under Article 280 for the performance of a song that incited to violence.
Heavier sentences were imposed under Article 2052 of the Criminal Code. These were all issued in return for incitement of a radical Islamist nature: the publication of video clips or texts on the Internet, calling for a “holy war” or prompting the reader/viewer to join the ranks of the jihadists. Five people from Syktyvkar, Primorsky Region, Sochi, Ust-Labinsk and Moscow were convicted in a joint case under Article 2052, Part 1 and Article 282, Part 1. Their sentences ranged from 10 months to 4.5 years in prison.
Five more people were convicted or sentenced without a jihadist context (or where such context is unknown to us). These sentences were imposed for the publication of the xenophobic audio and video clips ‘The Execution of A Tajik and a Dagestani’ and ‘Argentine – Sex, Fight’ and some unnamed materials containing calls to violence in the Volgograd and Vladimir Regions, Mari El Republic, and Altai Region. All materials were published on the VKontakte social network. To us, the sentences seem unreasonably harsh. Still, by comparison to 2015, the situation has improved markedly. Let us recall that in 2015 we counted 16 “for-words-only” convictions under articles pertaining to extremist activity (and, for various reasons, this number did not include convictions under Article 2052 of the Criminal Code). We are aware of two such “dubious” sentences in 2014. In 2013, there was just the one.
The share of suspended sentences, by comparison with the previous year, has risen to 41% (82 out of 198 offenders), 7% more than the year before (34%). We consider this type of sentence far from the most effective way to punish speech offences. Naturally, a suspended sentence may also turn into a significant punishment, as it has the capability to damage a reputation and affect one’s career prospects; moreover, in case of a repeat run-in with the law, an earlier suspended sentence makes the final sentence more severe. Yet the offenders (as a rule, young men) are generally, not as yet too concerned with such things. What we see as far more adequate punishment is corrective, compulsory or educational work, or fines. We see it as appropriate that more of those convicted (73 people) were sentenced to punishments of this kind, which do not involve imprisonment. It is unfortunate that the proportion of such sentences has fallen by comparison to 2015.
At least two sentences last year involved a ban on practicing a profession. These concerned a school teacher and an unarmed combat coach in a children’s club. We consider these sentencing decisions justified, given that one is talking of racist statements made in the presence of minors, among whom may be children with various ethnic backgrounds. Such statements may provoke bullying or, in the case of a martial arts club, actual physical attacks.
In no fewer than ten cases, the offenders were banned from speaking in mass media, on the Internet, and during mass-participation public events. Aside from this, we know of five more cases where the sentence involved a ban on Internet use for a given period of time. We see such a measure as, to say the least, strange. Firstly, the Internet may be necessary for work and everyday life. Secondly, it is far from clear how such a ban could be practically enforced.
Progressively more often we hear about confiscation of the “instruments of crime”, i.e. laptops, tablets, smart phones, etc. – devices used by the offenders to upload the “heretical” materials. These devices often cost far more than the total sum of all the fines imposed by the court. This measure we see as clearly excessive.
Same as every year, the majority of convictions – 167 out of 198, or 84% (about the same as in 2014-2015) – relate to materials uploaded onto the Internet.
Such materials were found in:
- social media – 152 cases (of which 102 on VKontakte and 50 on other, unspecified social media – possibly also VKontakte);
- internet forums – 1;
- internet-based mass media – 1;
- unspecified location on the Internet – 13.
This dynamic has remained unchanged these past five years. Extremists are still most often found on VKontakte, the social media network most popular with Russia’s youth.
We are talking abut materials of the following types (several of which may coexist under one account, even on one page):
- video clips – 70;
- images (drawings, photographs, memes) – 59;
- audio (songs) – 38;
- texts (including re-publication of books) – 58;
- quotes and comments (on social media and forums) – 15;
- creation and administration of neo-Nazi groups – 3;
- unknown – 24.
Thus, in terms of typology, little has changed. The majority of convictions were for the re-publication of video clips and images on social media (primarily on VKontakte).
The predominance of video and music clips is understandable, given their visual impact. They are more attention-grabbing and are technically very easy to re-publish using video-hosting services. Thus, for example, copies of the infamous video clip The Execution of a Tajik and a Dagestani turn up on social media in large numbers. So far as re-publication of texts is concerned, it is hard to understand from the description, exactly what texts are being referred to, whether these are full length articles or just image captions.
It is worth paying some attention to the administration and creation of groups on social networks. Such groups are often created for the purpose of coordinating acts of violence. Yet we have seen remarkably few sentences for this type of organisational activity in recent years.
We are once again forced to repeat that nothing has been done to clarify the law with regards to the key criterion of public prominence – a key factor for propaganda materials. It is still completely disregarded during sentencing. In 2016, once again, the majority of sentences were passed on the ordinary rank-and-file social network users for re-posting video and audio content. We are talking about people without a mass audience. The main argument of the law-enforcement agencies is that all “unlocked” content (both original and re-posted) is potentially accessible to any Internet user. Yet, the reality is that, prior to attracting the attention of the law, the content published by the offenders is only viewed by their very non-numerous friends on the social network. A discussion of pubic prominence is, in our opinion, long overdue. Yet no such discussion seems to be happening in the legislative sphere. The Supreme Court refused to discuss this topic when preparing the updated Ruling on the anti-terrorist and-anti-extremist uses of criminal law.
Our remarks should not be interpreted to mean that the law is applied exclusively to the pursuit of insignificant or random people. Starting from 2012 and even more so from autumn 2014, the state has been actively prosecuting right-wing radicals for actionable speech offenses, even if sometimes on trivial grounds. In March 2016 the Kirovsky Court of St. Petersburg convicted Dina Garina, the leader of the ultra-right movement “The Russians of St. Petersburg”. She was given a suspended sentence for posting calls to violence against people from Dagestan on a social network. In September 2016 a suspended sentence was imposed under Article 282, Part 1 of the Criminal Code in Moscow upon the afore-mentioned former leader of RFO Memory and the head of the KNS Moscow branch Vladimir (Ratnikov) Komarnitsky.
There have been seen slightly more convictions for off-line speech offences than the year before (31). Their distribution is as follows:
- delivering lectures – 1;
- reading a book aloud at a place of work – 1;
- directing a youth group (inflammatory speech) – 2;
- agitation in prison (appeals to cellmates) – 1;
- publication of books – 2;
- words shouted during an attack – 3;
- isolated inflammatory actions (exact nature unknown) carried out by leaders and members of ultra-right groups – 2;
- public insult in the street – 2;
- address at a rally – 1;
- leafleting – 5;
- graffiti – 6;
- sticker – 3;
- writing of articles – 1;
- public performance of a song – 1.
We do not dispute the validity of the convictions – criminal prosecution may be an adequate way to punish the actions listed. Yet, in these cases, same as in the cases relating to the Internet, what should be taken into account is not only the content of the statement but also the various other factors that affect how much of a danger the offence poses to society. First and foremost, one must consider the personal authoritativeness of the speaker, as perceived by his audience – some people’s words may have great resonance within a particular community, and other people’s ones quite clearly may not. The size of the audience, that is the afore-mentioned public prominence of the utterance, must, too, be considered – one may, for example, put up a thousand inflammatory stickers in the metro or address a meeting of a dozen people.
In 2016, prosecutions of the ultra-right under Article 2821 (“Organising an Extremist Community”) and 2822 (“Organising the Activity of an Extremist Community”) of the Criminal Code were somewhat less of a feature than they were in 2015. We know of six such verdicts, figuring 19 people in 6 regions of the country (vs. 10 verdicts involving 10 people in 8 regions in 2015).
Article 2821 of the Criminal Code figured in three cases and was, quite justifiably, applied to the founders and members of ultra-right organisations.
In the Orenburg Region four young people from Orsk and Novotroitsk were sentenced to various prison terms under Article 2821, Parts 1 and 2; Article 282, Part 2, clauses a and c; and Article 111, Part 2, clause f. In 2010, two members of the ultra-right created a group in Orsk. The group was later joined by two more people from the Orenburg Region. On 18 November 2011, members of the group, armed with a bat and a knife, subjected a person of “non-Slavic appearance” to battery.
In Shadrinsk, Kurgan Region, five members of the White Wolves group (Belye Volki) were convicted. According to the investigators, a man from the city of Kurgan found “like-minded individuals” in Shadrinsk and created the White Wolves group in 2014. Between May and November of 2014 the accused had drawn xenophobic graffiti on buildings, published calls for violence on social networks, and, in August 2014, set fire to a cafe belonging to a man from Azerbaijan. The leader of the movement was convicted under Article 2821,Part 1 of the Criminal Code (alongside other articles) and given a suspended to 5 years prison term, along with restriction of liberty for one year, a probation term of two years and six months, a three year ban on activities connected to setting up public organisations, and a one year ban on putting any materials whatsoever on the Internet or disseminating them via mass media as well as on organising public events. The others also received suspended prison terms under various other articles.
In Moscow, the Zyuzino District Court passed a sentence under Article 2821, Part 2; Article 282, Part 1; and Article 222 of the Criminal Code (“Illegal Acquisition, Transfer, Sale, Storage, Transportation, or Bearing of Firearms, Their Basic Parts, Ammunition, Explosives, and Explosive Devices”) on 10 members of the Russian National Union “Attack” (Russkoe Natsional’noe Obiedinenie “Ataka”), a splinter group of the well-known neo-Nazi organisation Restrukt!. They received suspended prison terms. 
In the remaining three cases Article 2822 of the Criminal Code was invoked (“Organising the Activity of an Extremist Community”).
In Omsk, a 59-year-old activist from the Russian National Unitymovement (Russkoe Natsional’noe Edinstvo, RNE), Alexander Krasnoperov, was convicted under Article 105, Article 280, Article 282, and Article 2822, Part 1.1 of the Criminal Code. Krasnoperov was accused of murder of another member of the ultra-right, the 19-year-old activist from Russian Runs (Russkie Probezhnki) and Sober Backyards (Trezvye Dvory), Ilya Zhuravlev. Krasnoperov was the administrator of the RNE page on social media, where between 2009 and 2015 he had uploaded materials containing calls for racist violence and encouraging anyone who may be interested to join the RNE. He also conducted gatherings of RNE members at his flat. The court sentenced him to 10 years in a strict-regime colony.
In Nevinnomyssk, Stavropol Region, a student of an industrial college, Artem Deykun, was convicted under Article 2822 of the Criminal Code. Between December 2015 and January 2016, Deykun had, in person and via his page on the social media network VKontakte, called on people to join the Misanthropic Division (sic.). The court found Deykun guillty and sentenced him to a suspended three year prison term and a further one year of restriction of liberty, with a three year probationary period.
Finally, as has become traditional, Article 2822 of the Criminal Code was invoked in the conviction of yet another member of the neo-Pagan organisation Spiritual and Tribal Sovereign Rus' (Dukhovno-Rodovaia Derzhava Rus’). In February 2016, in the town of Yemanzhelinsk, Chelyabinsk Region, the court fined one of the members of this organization 50,000 RUB for writing letters to law-enforcement agencies and other official agencies, containing information about the activities of his organisation. This practice of “self-incrimination” is typical of Spiritual and Tribal Sovereign Rus'.
In 2016 the Federal List of Extremist Materials was undated 54 times, and 785 entries were added (vs. 667 the year before). 4 entries were removed from the list, without changing the numbering. The total number of entries grew from 3229 to 4015. Some of the entries list diverse materials of various types.
The new additions can be classified as follows:
- xenophobic materials produced by modern Russian nationalists – 604;
- materials produced by other nationalists – 6;
- materials considered the “classics” of racism – 2;
- materials produced by Islamist militants and other calls for violence issued by political Islamists – 69;
- other Islamic materials (books by Said Nursi; materials produced by banned organizations, including Hizb ut-Tahrir, etc.) – 18;
- materials produced by Russian Orthodox fundamentalists – 3;
- other religious materials (materials produced by the Jehovah’s Witnesses and others) – 5;
- particularly radical anti-Russian addresses from Ukraine (treated as a separate category from “other nationalists”) – 11;
- other materials from Ukraine’s mass media and Internet – 13;
- other materials containing incitements to violence and rioting – 27;
- non-violent opposition materials – 2;
- a large body of assorted texts, blocked in its entirety – 1;
- parodies banned as serious statements – 2;
- materials banned clearly by mistake – 2;
- materials created by people who were, in our view, not in full possession of their faculties – 2;
- materials that cannot be identified – 18 (includes the 4 entries removed from the list).
As expected, the share of online materials on the list keeps increasing: at least 711 entries out of 785 refer to materials found on the Internet (compared to 594 entries out of 667 in the preceding year). A significant part of this are the various xenophobic materials from the social network VKontakte. The off-line materials include: various xenophobic books (predominatly published by Algoritm publishing house) and flyers; Islamic literature; Jehovah’s Witnesses’ brochures; the letters of Spiritual and Tribal Sovereign Rus' (for more information see the section that deals with persecution for the membership of various organisations); the banned graffiti from the bridge support in Vladimir.
Sometimes, it is not entirely clear where the forbidden material was to be found. Thus, for example, entry no. 3247 reads: “The depiction of a human skull and bone with a caption “Dead head... The head of all!!!” beneath which another caption: “Death to Jews and people from the Caucasus and Central Asia [derogatory Russian terms for both are used], we’ll give you hell soon enough!!!” (Ruling of the Yoshkar-Ola City Court, Mari El, 10 October 2015)”.
That this clumsy and ever more bloated mechanism has long since become impossible to work with is a point we have raised repeatedly over the years. 4 entries have been deleted from the list over the course of the year, but this has hardly made a difference.
That said, the General Prosecutor's Office has attempted to improve the situation by centralizing this kind of work. In November 2016 the text of a General Prosecutor's Office Decree issued all the way back in March 2016 was made public. It rearranged the existing practices concerned with the prohibition of extremist materials. However, so far, the expansion of the Federal List of Extremist Materials has only accelerated.
Some of the entries on the list look feel like quick notes jotted down for one’s own use or an organisation’s internal use – they are hard for ordinary readers to understand. Thus the carelessly described materials accumulate. For example, entry no. 3393 reads: “graphic file 2sgfcP75YWU.jpg uploaded to the VKontakte social network.” Other materials are only referred to by their URL, sometimes inaccurately reproduced, making the ban all the more pointless. Not to mention the huge number of all manner of bibliographic, grammatical, and orthographic errors and typos.
On other occasions, the reverse is true and the descriptions are needlessly detailed. Take entry 3494: “A photo image containing a caption “Pugachev, Orel is with you! All the Chechens out!” transferred onto a concrete fence of the Krestitelskoye Cemetery, address: Orel, Karachevskaya St., 97A. Posted by A.A. Raevsky for public viewing on a VKontakte social network page, account of “Anton Raevsky”: www.vk.com/id137792260 (by the ruling of Zavodskoy District Court, Orel, 09 March 2016)”. Despite this extremely thorough description, it remains totally unclear, whether it is the inscription on the fence that is illegal or its image uploaded to the social network. Would a similar inscription on a different fence be equally prohibited? Or a different photograph of the same inscription? Or the same photograph but posted from a different account? Etc.
These are not idle questions. Take this example: in November 2016, the Novocheboksarsk City Court in the Chuvash Republic, ruled that an administrative case had to be abandoned. The case was brought against Dmitry Pankov, a local activist of the People’s Freedom Party (PARNAS), for reposting a photograph of Vitaly Milonov wearing a T-shirt with the banned slogan “Orthodoxy or death”. The court took into consideration the fact that, in the Federal List of Extremist Materials, this slogan ends with an exclamation mark. The phrase “Orthodoxy or death”, as published by Pankov, has no exclamation mark. Earlier, a Chuvash opposition activist Dmitry Semenov had been fined for publishing a photograph of Milonov wearing a T-shit with the same slogan.
The courts keep adding the same materials to the list as new entries. In August 2016, entry no. 3746 on the list was Dmitry Nesterov’s book “Skinheads: Rus is awakening” (Skyny: Rus’ probuzhdaetsia), found to be extremist by Leninsky District Court in Yekaterinburg, Sverdlovsk Region, on 22 March 2016. The same book (also without any details regarding the publisher, the date of publication, etc.) had already been ruled to be extremist by the Leninsky District Court in Orenburg on 26 July 2010 and added to the Federal List of Extremist Materials as entry no. 1482. There was a similar story involving the “Iman Islam Namaz” brochure by Muhammad Saalih al-Munajjid (entries no. 3292 and 2073). What makes the Islamic brochure more notable still is that not only it was recognised as extremist twice in two years, both times were by the same court (first time in April 2013). Sometimes the same materials have multiple entries with different publishing data. For example, the film The Eternal Jew was added to the list in 2016 as no fewer than 10 separate entries, each with different bibliographic data (entries no. 3513-3522). And that despite the fact that the same film was already on the list as at least five other separate entries. At least 15 such repeat entries were added to the list over the year. Altogether there are at least 125 of them.
Some materials continue to be classified as extremist quite clearly inappropriately (Jehovah’s Witnesses brochures etc.).
In 2016, 10 organisations were added to the Federal List of Extremist Organizations published on the Ministry of Justice website. This number is approximately the same as last year (when it was 11 organisations).
The following radical-right groups were added to the list in 2016: The Community Movement “TulaSkins”; the Ethnopolitical Association “The Russians” (we see this designation as partially inappropriate); the Russian National Union “Attack”; the Commune of the Indigenous Russian Peopleof Astrakhan, Astrakhan Region; the Will (Volya) party, as well as its regional branches and other subdivisions. For the first time in its existence, the list has come to contain a detailed description of an organization’s flag and emblem (those of the Will Party). This was probably done in order to make it easier to invoke Article 20.3 of the Administrative Code which concerns banned symbols.
Five religious organizations have were added to the list over the course of the year: Jehovah’s Witnesses congregations in Stary Oskol, Belgorod, Orel, and Elista, and one Muslim organization, the “Mirmamed Mosque” prayer house.
Thus, at the time of writing, the Federal List of Extremist Organizationscontains 58 organizations (not including 26 organizations recognized as terrorist) whose activities are banned by the court and punishable under Article 2822of the Criminal Code.
Aside from this, the list of organizations recognized as terrorist, published on the FSB website, has also been updated over the course of the year. Two international organizations have been added to it as entries no. 25 and 26; Ajr of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala SHAM (The Blessing from Allah, Glory to Him, the Exalted SYRIA) and the religious organisation Aum Shinrikyo, AUM, Aleph.
The number of those punished for administrative offences is growing. It is likely that our data with respect to such offences is more incomplete than our data concerning criminal cases. The prosecutors’ offices do not always release information about such measures. Even on the websites of the law courts, information about such cases appears with a considerable delay and, again, far from always. We present the data we have collated without taking into account the decisions that we consider patently inappropriate (the latter category is covered in our report on the “Inappropriate Enforcement of Anti-Extremist Legislation”, released simultaneously with this one).
So far as we are aware, in 2016, Article 20.3 of the Administrative Code (“Displaying Fascist Attributes and Symbols”) was invoked in cases against 128 people, 5 of whom were minors. (73 people were prosecuted under this article in 2015).
There is a considerable increase in prosecutions of inmates in corrective colonies for the display personal tattoos with Nazi symbols. In 2016, at least 25 people were involved in cases of this type.
Most of the offenders were fined between 1,000 and 3,000 RUB. Just as with criminal prosecutions, some of the offenders faced a confiscation of the “instruments of crime” (laptops, tablets, or smart phones), the cost of which often exceeds the fine several-fold. 5 people were sentenced to administrative arrests (detention for 3 to 10 days).
As always, some of the court decisions seem a bit dubious. In Samara Region, a court not only fined Vladimir Avdonin 1,000 RUB for a photograph of a WWII German soldiers in uniform and some photographs taken at one of the 1 May marches of the ultra-right in St. Petersburg but also deprived him for a year of the right to stand for public office.
A legal entity – the book shop OOO Novyi Knizhnyi M in the Moscow shopping centre U Rechnogo – was also tried in an administrative case under Article 20.3 of the Administrative Code. The shop sold bags with an imprint of the seal of the “Oberkommando der Wehrmach”, the Nazi Germany’s commander in chief. The seal included Nazi symbols. The shop was fined for 30,000 RUB.
161 people, four of them minors, were convicted under Article 20.29 of the Administrative Code (“Production and Dissemination of Extremist Material”). In 2015, we reported about 61 convictions under this article.
7 offenders were sentenced to administrative arrest (3 to 10 days). The rest were fined small amounts.
The prosecutors are invoking progressively more of the entries on the Federal List. In 2016, social network users were punished for uploading the songs of 12 ultra-right bands (primarily Kolovrat), the songs of armed Chechen resistance by Timur Mutsuraev, various xenophobic video clips (primarily the clips by Format-18 and various versions of The Last Interview with the Partisans of Primorye), the video clips containing addresses by Said Buryatsky, xenophobic films (among them The Eternal Jew), and two instances of forbidden graffiti. However, the prosecutors clearly struggle to learn the entirety of the massive list, and the range of the entries invoked remains laughably small compared to the formidable variety of materials the list contains.
There were also legal entities who were found guilty under this article. In Khabarovsk, a court fined a network of music shops of the Kio trade house 154,000 RUB for selling discs containing songs by Korroziya Metalla which are considered to be extremist.
In 2016, 18 people were prosecuted under Articles 20.3 and 20.29 of the Administrative Code simultaneously. Three of them were sentenced to administrative arrest; the remainder were fined, except for one case where the results are still unknown to us.
Several parents were prosecuted under Article 5.35 of the Administrative Code (“Failure of Parents or of Other Legal Representatives of Minors to Carry Out Their Obligations as Regards the Maintenance and Upbringing of the Minors”). Cases were filed against the mothers of two junior xenophobes. The court fined the relatives of the girls accused of torturing and killing animals and inciting hatred towards a particular social group 500 RUB (see the Systematic Racist and Neo-Nazi Violence: Attacks against LGBT and Homeless People section).
Earlier in this document, we mentioned verdicts that we regard as more or less appropriate. We know of at least 43 cases of inappropriate punishment under Article 20.29 of the Administrative Code and of 19 such cases under Article 20.3. Thus, we have 289 appropriate. decisions and 62 inappropriate ones. In comparison with 2015, when there were 155 appropriate decisions and 86 inappropriate ones, the proportion of inappropriateconvictions has significantly fallen.
So far as combating extremist material on-line goes, the task of the prosecutors comes down to blocking access to the prohibited materials (or those presumed to be otherwise “dangerous”). In the last four years, the law-enforcement agencies have been getting progressively more proactive on this front.
Firstly, an active content-blocking system based on the Unified Registry of Prohibited Sites has been up and running since 1 November 2012. According to the data published on RosKomSvoboda (only RosKomNadzor has access to the complete data set), in 2016, 486 internet resources were added to the registry or terrorism-related reasons by the decisions of various courts (vs. 283 in 2015). As of 1 January 2017, the total number of resources that have been blocked in this fashion since the registry came into existence is, according to preliminary calculations, 908.
The registry will inevitably keep growing. We know of at least another 45 applications made by prosecutors to courts, asking that the content of various web pages be recognized as “forbidden for dissemination in the Russian Federation” and the resources be added to the register. It is likely that the real number of such applications is far higher.
Secondly, the Unified Registry is supplemented by an additional registry stipulated under Lugovoy’s Law. This law makes provisions for online materials being blocked at the request of the General Prosecutor's Office, without the involvement of a court, if the said material carries incitement to extremist activities or public disorder. The supplementary registry is growing extremely fast: in 2016, 923 new online resources were added to it – vs. 133 in 2015. (The total number of listed resource is 1410.) It is interesting that efforts to expand the registry picked up in earnest in the second half of the year. The bulk of the materials added were radical Islamist in nature (including the video clips produced by the Islamic State).
Formally the two registries exist separately, but the protocol of working with them is virtually identical. When RosKomNadzor reaches the requisite decision, a block is applied to the concrete URL of the page, or much more widely to the sub-domain name, or to the IP address.
The following on-line resources have been added to the registries over the curse of the year:
- the xenophobic materials produced by the contemporary Russian nationalists (this includes various video clips, songs by Kolovrat, Tsiklon B, Order, and Argentina, poems by Alexander Kharchikov, Dmitry Nesterov’s book Skinheads: Rus awakens, incitements to join the Azov battalion posted on VKontakte, and much else);
- investigations by journalists (e.g. Bill Buford’s book The English Disease);
- materials by the “classics” of fascism (books by Hitler, Mussolini, Himmler, etc.)
- materials produced by Islamist militants and other calls for violence issued by political Islamists (including incitement to travel to Syria);
- other Muslim materials (Said Nursi's books, materials produced be banned organizations, including Hizb ut-Tahrir, etc);
- video clips containing materials generated by the Ukrainian organizations and sites prohibited in Russia (clips by the Right Sector);
- other materials from Ukraine’s mass media;
- parodies banned as serious statements;
- various other materials directed at undermining the government or inciting public disorder;
- various materials produced by peaceful opposition (e.g. calls to attend the march in memory of Boris Nemtsov in Nizhny Novgorod or the protest of the long-haul drivers);
- materials that cannot be identified.
All our objections concerning the efficacy and legality of such measures have been repeatedly voiced previously. The situation has only worsened. Like the Federal List, the registers are ballooning in size. Both the human involvement and the component of critical analysis are steadily getting squeezed out of the system – hardly surprising, given the sheer size of it. In 2017 it came to be known that the keyword searches are done for the law-enforcement agencies by a special program called Laplace’s Demon (Demon Laplasa). The program, which performs round-the-clock monitoring of social networks, was developed by the Center for Research into the Legitimacy and Political Process, an autonomous non-commercial organization. The organization forwards information about extremist content identified by the program to local law-enforcement agencies.
One thing never changes from one year to the next: the quality of new additions gets steadily worse. The existing content-blocking systems in no improve public safety, but they do increasingly limit freedom of expression.
 Our research in 2016 has been supported by various donors, including the Norwegian Helsinki Committee, the International Partnership for Human Rights, and state support funds allocated as a grant in accordance with the Presidential Decree of April 1, 2015.
On 30 December 2016 the SOVA Center was forcibly included by the Ministry of Justice into the registry of “non-profit organisations performing the functions of a foreign agent”. We disagree with this decision and have appealed it.
 Our data for 2015 and 2016 is as recorded on 11 March 2017.
 See V. Alperovich, N. Yudina. Calm before the Storm? Xenophobia and Radical Nationalism in Russia, and Efforts to Counteract Them in 2014 // SOVA Center. 2015. 21 April (http://www.sova-center.ru/en/xenophobia/reports-analyses/2015/04/d31818/).
 Our equivalent report for 2015 recorded 11 dead, 82 injured, and 6 death threats. See V. Alperovich, N. Yudina. The Ultra-Right Movement under Pressure Xenophobia and Radical Nationalism in Russia, and Efforts to Counteract Them in 2015 // SOVA Center. 2016. 8 April (http://www.sova-center.ru/en/xenophobia/reports-analyses/2016/04/d34247/).
 Girl’s body with multiple knife wounds found in south-east Moscow // life. 2016. 23 December. ( https://life.ru/t/новости/951185/tielo_zhiestoko_ubitoi_dievushki_naidieno_v_moskvie).
 These attacks had peaked in 2007 (7 killed, 118 injured) and were consistently decreasing in number. The lowest point was in 2013 (7 injured). For more information see: See V. Alperovich, N. Yudina. Calm before the Storm…
 Group of young men in Snegovaia Pad’ beats up schoolchildren, extorts money, attempts to establish white supremacy // Novosti Vladivostoka 2016. 11 May (http://www.newsvl.ru/vlad/2016/05/11/147231/#ixzz48KF7rjjV).
 VKontakte employee battered and robbed in St. Petersburg; attackers shouted “national traitor, Jew, fifth column” // Mediazona. 2016. 13 June (https://zona.media/news/2016/12/06/s-krikami).
 For more information see: Feel the epoch for yourself: “patriotic” activists throw eggs at children taking part in competition // Meduza. 2016. 28 April (https://meduza.io/feature/2016/04/28/pochuvstvovat-epohu-na-sebe).
 Man from ultra-right suspected of killing journalist Tsilikin // SOVA Center. 2016. 8 April (http://www.sova-center.ru/racism-xenophobia/news/racism-nationalism/2016/04/d34258/).
 Reclassify Tsilikin’s murder as a hate crime // change.org. 2016. 29 September (https://www.change.org/p/признать-убийство-циликина-преступлением-на-почве-ненависти).
 See SOVA report for more information on the story: Hundreds March in Memory of Markelov and Baburova in Moscow 24 January 2016 // SOVA Center. 2013. 24 January (http://www.sova-center.ru/en/xenophobia/news-releases/2013/01/d26273/).
 Right-foot-ball // SOVA Center. 2016. 20 May (http://www.sova-center.ru/racism-xenophobia/publications/2016/05/d34534/).
 Marseille Fans: racism on top of all // SOVA Center. 2016. 16 June (http://www.sova-center.ru/racism-xenophobia/publications/2016/06/d34799/).
 For more information see: Khabarovsk knacker-girls accused of inciting hate and insulting religious sentiment // SOVA Center. 2016. 11 November (http://www.sova-center.ru/racism-xenophobia/news/counteraction/2016/11/d35813/).
 New accusation for the defendants in criminal case about murder of Bryansk Musician // Office of Investigations, Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation, Bryansk Region. 2016. 21 December (http://www.sova-center.ru/racism-xenophobia/news/counteraction/2016/12/d36056/).
 Criminal case launched against leader of RFO Memory(Pamiat) // SOVA Center. 15 April 2016 (http://www.sova-center.ru/racism-xenophobia/news/counteraction/2016/04/d34318/).
 Dina Garina’s home searched in connection with a hate crime criminal case // SOVA Center. 2016. 21 April (http://www.sova-center.ru/misuse/news/persecution/2016/04/d34366/).
 Case of “Russian March” organiser goes to court in Lipetsk // SOVA Center. 2016. 27 September (http://www.sova-center.ru/racism-xenophobia/news/counteraction/2016/09/d35483/).
 Local nationalists’ homes searched in Vologda // SOVA Center. 2016. 13 May (http://www.sova-center.ru/racism-xenophobia/news/counteraction/2016/05/d34549/).
 NOMP leader Col. Kvachkov accused of inciting terrorism // SOVA Center. 2016. 2 June (http://www.sova-center.ru/racism-xenophobia/news/counteraction/2016/06/d34697/).
 Yury Yekishev detained in Moscow // SOVA Center. 2016. 23 June (http://www.sova-center.ru/racism-xenophobia/news/counteraction/2016/06/d34857/).
 Police search Moscow Offices of “Other Russia”, 14 detained // Meduza. 2016. 20 February (https://meduza.io/news/2017/02/20/politsiya-prishla-s-obyskom-v-moskovskiy-ofis-drugoy-rossii-14-chelovek-zaderzhany).
 Dmitry Dyomushkin detained in Moscow // SOVA Center. 2016. 21 October (http://www.sova-center.ru/racism-xenophobia/news/counteraction/2016/10/d35664/).
 The “navel” of the land of Novorossiya // Gazeta.ru. 2016. 26 January (https://www.gazeta.ru/politics/2016/01/26_a_8041871.shtml).
 The political declaration of the All-Russian National Movement under the leadership of Igor Strelkov // The ‘Novorossiya” Movement. 2016. 28 May.
 Vladimir Basmanov: are we about to create a Party of Nationalists with Dyomushkin, so that we can take part in the federal elections? // VKontakte. Page of the “Nation and Freedom” Committee. 28 September 2016.
 For more information see: V. Alperovich. The Transformation of the Ultra-right: 2013-16 // SOVA Center. 2016. 23 August (http://www.sova-center.ru/en/xenophobia/reports-analyses/2016/08/d35252/).
 S.E.R.B.’s report about the Saturday action opposing the multitudinous gathering of Russia’s nation-traitors // The official Facebook page of Gosha Tarasevich. 4 December 2016.
 Because he had been arrested under Articles 20.3 and 20.1 of the Administrative Codeon more than two occasions. For more information see: Dmitry Dyomushkin under administrative arrest yet again // SOVA Center. 2015. 11 September (http://www.sova-center.ru/racism-xenophobia/news/counteraction/2015/09/d32782/).
 According to KNS, the Central Committee of the Russian March includes: Igor Artyomov (RONS), Alexander Belov (ex-Russians), Vladimir Basmanov (KNS), Maxim Vakhromov (Russian National Union – Russian March – Ural), Stanislav Vorobyov (RID), Denis Tyukin (Vikhorev, Russian Centre, ex-DPNI Kirov), Vladislav Plastinin (Frontier of the North), as well as the three nationalists admitted in 2016: Sergey Guzhev (Russian Vologda), Georgii Pavlov (“Gosha the Aryan”, The Pskov Russian Republic”), and Igor Stenin (Russans of Astrakhan ).
 Russian nationalists are preparing the 12th Russian March // Artpolitinfo. 15th September 2016.
 Vladimir Istarkhov on Parnas and the elections – 18 September 2016 // Youtube.com. 30 August 2016.
 Boris Mironov urges you to support PARNAS and Maltsev in the elections // Natsional’naia sluzhba novostei. 9 September 2016.
 Russian nationalists start work on creating nationalist movement and party! Hysterics before the elections // Youtube.com. 2016. 20 September (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OXga4SJ3H4o).
 Igor Mogilev AGAINST Vyacheslav Maltsev // VKontakte. 12 September 2016.
 Igor Strelkov: we need to create our own country // The official site of the “Novorossiya” Movement. 23 September 2016.
 The Russian News / Current: the occupying regime holds elections among traitors // Youtube.com. 6 September 2016.
 So about the elections… // K. Krylov’s Internet-diary. 14 September 2016.
Alexey Balyberdin, who ran in the Nizhny Tagil single-mandate constituency No.171, representing United Russia (co-chairman of the Anti-Maidan movement); Dmitry Sablin, the United Russia candidate in the Novomoskovsk single-mandate constituency No.202 (co-chairman of the Anti-Maidan movement); Leonid Ogul, the United Russia candidate in the Astrakhan single-mandate constituency No.74 (the ONF candidate who put PVO’s bills before the State Duma); Vladimir Bortko, the KPRF (Communist Party) candidate in the Central single-mandate constituency No.216; Sergey Shargunov, he KPRF candidate in the Korinskiy single-mandate constituency No.191 (supporter of the Anti-Maidan movement); Anatoliy Wasserman, the Fair Russia (Spravedlivaia Rossiia) candidate in the Preobrazhensky single-mandate constituency No.205; Yaroslav Nilov, the LDPR (Liberal Democrat) candidate in the Kuntsevo single-mandate constituency.
 For more information see: V. Alperovich, A. Verkhovsky, N. Yudina, Between Manezhnaya and Bolotnaya: Xenophobia, Radical Nationalism and Efforts to Counteract Them in Russia in 2011 // SOVA Center. 2012. 5 April (http://www.sova-center.ru/en/xenophobia/reports-analyses/2012/04/d24088/).
 For more information see: Nationalist Malyugin gets 18 years of strict-regime colony // ZakS.Ru. 2016. 17 March (https://www.zaks.ru/new/archive/view/151187).
 See: Maria Kravchenko. Inappropriate Enforcement of Anti-Extremist Legislation in Russia in 2016 // SOVA Center. 2017. 21 April (http://www.sova-center.ru/en/misuse/reports-analyses/2017/04/d36857/).
 See: Who is in prison for “extremist crimes” that are not of a general criminal character. February 2017 // SOVA Center. 2017. 20 February (http://www.sova-center.ru/racism-xenophobia/publications/2017/02/d36413/).
 Pavel Chikov. The controlled thaw: What the repeat hearing of Dadin’s and Chudnovets’s case tells us // RBK. 6 March (http://www.rbc.ru/opinions/politics/06/03/2017/58bd186f9a7947c43c5ec254).
 The main operation and statistical indicators of general-jurisdiction courts in 2016 // The official site of the Russian Federation’s Supreme Court Justice Department. 2017 (February) (cdep.ru/userimages/sudebnaya_statistika/2017/Osnovnye_oper_pokazateli_2016.xlsx).
 This is approximately two and a half times as many as we are aware of. According to the SOVA Center, if one takes wrongful convictions into account, 261 persons were convicted under Articles 280, 2801, 282, 2821, 2822. The difference in the statistics can be partly explained by the fact that we do not take the data for the North Caucasus into account. Besides, the prosecutor's offices do not always consider it necessary to report routine convictions. For example, we know that 817 criminal cases were initiated in 2016, but many have not yet reached the sentencing stage.
The data on “terrorist articles”, as shown on the Supreme Court website, is also summary in nature: 182 people have been convicted under Article 2051 (“Facilitating terrorist activity”), 2052, 2053 (“Undergoing training for the purpose of carrying out terrorist activities”), 2054 (“Organizing a terrorist community and participation therein”), 2055 (“Organizing the activities of a terrorist organization and participation in the activities of the organization”), and 206 (“Hostage-taking”). The data are not for all “terrorist articles” other than 2052; consequently, no direct comparisons with our data should be made.
 For more information see: V. Alperovich, N. Yudina. Evoliution and devolution …
For more information see: “Right Sector” supporter in Tolyatti sentenced for materials uploaded on VKontakte // SOVA Center. 14 June (http://www.sova-center.ru/racism-xenophobia/news/counteraction/2016/06/d34789/).
 For more information see: Is Alexander Belov a political prisoner? // SOVA Center. 13 July 2015 (http://www.sova-center.ru/racism-xenophobia/publications/2015/07/d32405/); V. Gefter, Being recognized as a political prisoner is not automatically praised // SOVA Center. 21 July 2015 (http://www.sova-center.ru/racism-xenophobia/publications/2015/07/d32467/); A. Verkhovsky, Incitement to hatred and political prisoner status // SOVA Center. 28 July 2015 (http://www.sova-center.ru/racism-xenophobia/publications/2015/07/d32511/).
 For more information see: Alexander Belov sentenced to 7.5 years in a general-regime colony // SOVA Center. 24 August 2016 (http://www.sova-center.ru/racism-xenophobia/news/counteraction/2016/08/d35264/).
 Supreme Court lowers sentence for the Moscow schoolboy who joined the Right Sector // RAPSI. . 22 December (http://www.rapsinews.ru/judicial_news/20161222/277423491.html).
 For more information see: V. Alperovich, N. Yudina. Calm Before the Storm?..
 Gleb Trifonov. Prominent Russian nationalist becomes ISIS recruiter // Life. 2016. 23 December (https://life.ru/t/%D0%BD%D0%BE%D0%B2%D0%BE%D1%81%D1%82%D0%B8/951036/izviestnyi_russkii_nieonatsist_stal_vierbovshchikom_ighil).
 For more details see: Former NS/WP member sentenced for recruiting for ISIS // SOVA Center. 2016. 23 December (http://www.sova-center.ru/racism-xenophobia/news/counteraction/2016/12/d36079/).
 For example, see: N. Yudina, Anti-extremism in virtual Russia: 2014–2015 // SOVA Center. 2016. 24 August (http://www.sova-center.ru/files/xeno/web14-15-eng.pdf).
 See: V. Alperovich, A. Verkhovsky, N. Yudina Op. cit.
 The Ruling of the Supreme Court Plenum of the Russian Federation from November 3, 2016 N 41, Moscow "On amendments to the Ruling of the Supreme Court Plenum of the Russian Federation dated of February 9, 2012 N 1 "Concerning some questions of judicial practice in criminal cases regarding crimes of a terrorist nature" and the Ruling dated of 28 June 2011 N 11 " Concerning judicial practice in criminal cases regarding crimes of an extremist nature" // the Official website of the Supreme Court. 2016. November 16 (http://www.vsrf.ru/Show_pdf.php?Id=11086).
 Instances of misuse of legislation are examined in: M. Kravchenko. Op. Cit.
 For more information about the law enforcement in this area, see: The Rabat Plan of Action for the prohibition of national, racial, or religious hatred whereby enmity, discrimination or violence are incited // SOVA Center. 2014. 7 November (http://www.sova-center.ru/racism-xenophobia/publications/2014/11/d30593/).
 In this paper, we do not consider the sentences that are clearly inappropriate or the sentences imposed in on the members Hizb ut-Tahrir al-Islami.
 Two more men had been tried and convicted in connection with Attack earlier: one was given a suspend term of 2 years; the other, Vladimir Kudriashov, the founder of Attack, who had been detained on the territory of the Luhansk People Republic at the request of the Russian Federation’s Investigative Committee and handed over to the Russian authorities, was sentenced to 1 year in a general-regime colony.
 RNE Omsk branch was recognized as extremist by the decision of the Omsk Region Court in 2012.
 Misanthropic Devisionwas recognised as an extremist organisation by the Krasnoyarsk Region Court on 17 June 2015.
 The SOVA Center thanks Maria Muradova, a three year student at the Moscow State University, Journalism Faculty, for her help with classifying the entries.
 As 15 March 2017, the list contained 4061 entries.
 For more information, see: Vladimir: for some reason a court recognizes graffiti as extremist // SOVA Center. 2016. 20 December (http://www.sova-center.ru/racism-xenophobia/news/counteraction/2015/12/d33425/).
 See, for example, the relevant chapter in: V. Alperovich and N. Yudina. Evolution and Devolution: Xenophobia, Radical Nationalism and Efforts to Counteract them in the first half of 2016 // SOVA Center. 2016. 13 July (http://www.sova-center.ru/racism-xenophobia/publications/2016/07/d35018/).
 For more details see: M. Kravchenko Inappropriate Enforcement of Anti-Extremist Legislation in Russia in November 2016 // SOVA Center. 2016. 5 December (http://www.sova-center.ru/misuse/publications/2016/12/d35943/).
 We believe this is done on purpose, so as not to advertise the prohibited material.
 This slogan was banned by the Cheremushkinsky District Court in 2010 and included on the Federal List of Extremist Materials under entry no. 865.
 Court decides not to punish the Chuvash activist Pankov for re-posting a photograph of Milonov // SOVA Center. 2016. 22 November (http://www.sova-center.ru/misuse/news/persecution/2016/11/d35873/).
 Found to be extremist by the Sovetsky District Court of Tula, 06 July, 2015.
 Found to be extremist by the Moscow City Court, 28 October 2015.
 For more details, see: “The Russians” Association recognized as an extremist organization // SOVA Center. 2017. 28 August (http://www.sova-center.ru/racism-xenophobia/news/counteraction/2015/10/d33132/).
 Found to be extremist by the Moscow City Court, 11 August 2015.
 Found to be extremist by the Sovetsky District Court, Astrakhan, 21 July, 2015.
 Found to be extremist by the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation, 09 August 2016.
 Found to be extremist by the Belgorod Region Court, 10 February 2016.
 Found to be extremist by the Orel Region Court, 14 June 2016.
 Found to be extremist by the Supreme Court of the Kalmyk Republic, 25 February 2016.
 Found to be extremist by the Samara Region Court, 22 July 2016. It is discussed in: M. Kravchenko. Inappropriate Enforcement of Anti-Extremist Legislation in Russia in 2016...
 Already in 2017 Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People was also added to the list – found to be extremist by the Supreme Court of the Crimean Republic, 26 April 2016.
 Found to be a terrorist organisation by the Moscow District Military Court, 28 December 2015. Organization names based on the spellings given on the FSB website. Most probably, what is being referred to is the network that collects funds to provide humanitarian aid to jihadists – aid to prisoners, medical aid, etc.
 Found to be a terrorist organisation by the Supreme Court of the Russian federation, 10 September 2016.
 M. Kravchenko. Op. Cit.
 See: An activist from Samara will have to pay an administrative fine // SOVA Center. 2016. 21 December (http://www.sova-center.ru/racism-xenophobia/news/counteraction/2016/12/d36055/).
 The Eternal Jew is a well-known film directed by Fritz Hipplerat the behest of Goebbels. This film, more frequently than any other, is encountered among the materials people are persecuted for under administrative law – perhaps unsurprisingly, given that it that it appears on the Federal List no fewer than 15 times (see above).
 Parents and a grandmother of the Khabarovsk girls who tortured animals fined for 500 roubles // RAPSI. 2016. 8 December (http://www.rapsinews.ru/incident_news/20161208/277301965.html).
 See: Register of banned sites // RosKomSvoboda (http://reestr.rublacklist.net/).
 See: Updated list: “Extremist resources” in the Unified Register of Prohibited Sites // SOVA Center (http://www.sova-center.ru/racism-xenophobia/docs/2016/04/d34421/).
 According to RosKomSvoboda, extremism-related resources take up only a small share of the registry. As of 12 March 2017, there were 62,297 entries in total.
 Full title: “On Amendments to the Federal Law “On Information, Information Technologies and Protection of Information””.
 See: Updated list: Resources Listed in the Register of Sites Blocked under Lugovoy’s Law // SOVA Center (http://www.sova-center.ru/racism-xenophobia/docs/2017/01/d36203/).
 This leads to the blocking of many entirely innocent sites simply located at the same IP address.
 Interestingly, but not a single webpage containing calls to attend the "Russian March" was blocked.
 For example, see: N. Yudina Anti-extremism in virtual Russia…
 The lawyer: the leader of the "Instructions for survival" was called to the center "E" following the denunciation of a NGO, which had allegedly developed the anti-extremist software for monitoring social networks // Mediazone. 2017. February 2 (https://zona.media/news/2017/08/02/demon_laplasa).